“Is Natural Selection” and “Survival of the Fittest” Failing America?”
The two-month old Mexican Presidency of Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador (AMLO) has abandoned the 13-year-long Mexican war on cartel drug lords. The “war” started in 2006 when newly elected President Felipe Calderon unleashed the Mexican Army and Federal police on the cartels. The goal was to implement a coordinated attack on regional drug cartels by hunting down, arresting or killing cartel leaders in the hope that the cartels would flounder without experienced leadership. What happened was (1) an enlargement of Mexican extradition of cartel leaders to the United States for unbiased trials and convictions. Success is highlighted by the successful prosecutions of the Tijuana Cartel leadership (Felix Arrellano) and the current trial of “El Chapo” the leader of the largest and most profitable Sinaloa Cartel. However, (2) the law of unintended consequences interfered and rather than watch the cartels break up when their leaders were arrested and/or convicted, open war broke out among cartel “staffs” for control of the cartels. The result — hundreds of thousands of bodies throughout Mexico.
Mixed in with these reports of AMLO’s change of cartel policy: Tijuana, Mexico’s, murders and astronomical murder rate. 2018 murders in Tijuana (Pop. 1.8 million) were 2,518, making its rate per 100,000 population, 140. Mexico recorded a 33 percent increase in murders in 2018 (33,341) over 2017’s 25,036. U.S. murders in 2017 were less than half Mexico’s. Tijuana’s 2,518 murders in 2018 were seven times that of 2012 Tijuana.
The exponential increase in murders is and has been concentrated among cartel juniors trying to move up by climbing over the bodies of people in their way.
By way of contrast, San Diego, California, Tijuana’s next door neighbor with 1.3 million people, many of which are of Mexican-origin, suffered only 32 murders in 2018, two per 100,000 people making it the least likely major U.S. city to suffer murder.
Far away Baltimore (500,000 people plus), Maryland, which has very few Mexicans leads the U.S. in murder rate; Baltimore’s 2017 murder rate was 56 per 100,000 population, 23 times that of San Diego. Detroit, also with few Mexicans, had a 2017 murder rate of 40 per 100,000; Chicago, with 650 murders, had a rate of 24 per 100,000. St. Louis, Missouri, with 300,000 people, actually leads the nation in urban murder rate – 66 per 100,000 people. Murder is not unknown in the United States; on the other hand, it does not begin to look like today’s Mexico.
2518 murders in Tijuana in 2018 while next door San Diego had 32 murders. Anyone that claims the murder/crime spree is spilling over to the United States because the border is not walled is politically fanciful. There is little correlation between crime in Mexico and in the United States. One correlation is the ghetto/barrio heavy profile of American murderers and their victims and that of the Mexican barrio. Another is unemployment.
Drugs are another correlation. At least one American scholar blames the drug cartel problem in Mexico on the NAFTA agreement that he and others claim cost millions of Mexican rural people to lose their “jobs.” They theorize that these “millions” of rural “campesino” (peasant) farmers and farm workers were heavily recruited by nascent drug cartels to work the poppy and marijuana fields of rural Mexico.
But what came first, unemployed farmers driven off their fields by the North American Free Trade agreement (NAFTA); those that cartel leaders enticed to stay on the farms producing marijuana and Mexican heroin, or the market sophistication developed by uneducated Mexican cartel leaders like “El Chapo” Guzman who singlehandedly stole the American gigantic drug market from traditional Chinese, Arab/Afghan and Colombian/Cuban sources allied with the American-Italian Mafia?
What came first is American drug consumption. It annually grows; more people use, more people die.
The huge increase in murders in Tijuana is traceable directly to illegal narcotics trafficking at the city block level, specifically sale and use of methamphetamines, or as it’s called in Mexico, “cristal.” (cree-STAHL)
In the U.S., overdose death numbers shock some because we lost more people in 2018 from drug overdoses than we did in ten years of war in Vietnam/ Southeast Asia. As bodies pile up, much of the blame for the epidemic of deaths is directed at Mexico. Is Mexico to blame? Or are the people who pop the opioids or heroin by “mouth,” or by “needle” to blame?
Charles Darwin’s “natural selection” and “survival of the fittest” come to mind when blame is to be assigned for drug overdose deaths or death by gun on the streets of Tijuana barrios or Chicago ghettos. Most of these victims inadvertently choose to be victims; they choose to use; they choose to sell.
Most of us choose not to use, not to sell and not to die by drug overdose. Why? Most of us are far smarter than those who die by drug overdose.
With over 10 percent among us regularly using some illicit drug by pill or injection, walking or driving among us and tens of thousands of Americans annually dying by making bad choices, we can only hope that choice-making and “natural selection” continue to work the magic that evolved mankind to where we are today and will be in the future.
A generation or two ago, when marijuana was illegal everywhere and those that died of drug overdoses or by gun were usually Black or Hispanic, American society didn’t care much.
Today’s American overdose deaths are mostly white and from towns, cities and states far from the Mexican border (e.g. Ohio, West Virginia), the public tear-jerking and hand-wringing amazes and confounds those of us who choose not to use, or die by pill or needle.
Aren’t we non-users the ones Nobel Prize winner, writer William Faulkner referred to when he accepted his Prize; to wit: “I believe man will not only merely endure, he will prevail.” He will, if he doesn’t use and overdose.