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Make work, not war

27 July 2009

The [Mexico City] News:

Lázaro Cárdenas used to be a sleepy city before it became the international cargo hub it is today. Ships coming from Pacific Rim nations as well as South America unload their containers by the thousands every day, and the port authorities pride themselves on a seamless operation which moves containers through customs and out of the facility in less than 36 hours.

In the past few years, however, this expediency and volume of trade did not go unnoticed by drug traffickers who have made the port a haven for themselves.

Unfortunately, the growth of the port, the existence of a steel mill and other industries have proven insufficient to create jobs needed by up-and-coming generations.

It is locally known, however, that drug traffickers are offering young men and women wages starting at 10,000 pesos a month. In addition, they offer them perks such as 100,000 pesos in life insurance, transportation, etc. And the young are flocking to the traffickers ranks.

On the other hand, the federal government is at war with the gangs of traffickers who control the area. Now caravans of federal cops roam the streets of the city, instilling fear in the civilian population.

As Samuel, a worker at the steel mill says, “you don’t fight narcotics traffickers with violence, when what is needed are jobs“.

And what is sensed in Lázaro Cárdenas is that as long as the federal government does not produce the conditions for companies to create jobs, their war on drug traffickers will be futile.

One factor I have yet to see anyone write on (including myself, since I don’t know enough about it) is the effect of increased U.S. trade with China in the growth of “la Familia Michoacana” and other criminal gangs. The Mexican meth trade (as was discovered when Ye Gon was arrested) depends on Chinese (and to a lesser extent, Mongolian) imports of pseudoephinidrine. With the U.S. appetite for Chinese manufactured goods overwhelming west coast ports, Lazaro Cardenas was expanded to handle — not Mexican trade — but U.S. trade.

One way to cut the meth trade would be to go back to the spirit of NAFTA and buy Mexican textiles, agricultural products, steel and automobiles, as opposed to importing them from China. Especially from unionized workers who can buy life insurance (and, think of the opportunities for U.S. insurance companies that are afraid they’ll lose business when the U.S. finally joins the rest of the world and offers universal health coverage).

That would suck for dockworkers in Lazaro Cardenas, of course, and probably unleash a whole new set of unintended consequences, but anyone have a better idea?

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Telzey permalink
    27 July 2009 11:16 am

    Isn’t it relevant to this discussion that millions of Mexicans have fled to the US to find jobs? Mexico has for decades used the US as a safety valve for its own social and economic failings. With that valve always available, illegal immigration to the US has actually been bad for Mexico, because it has allowed the Mexican elites to go on their merry way, without having to implement any real fundamental changes.

    • 27 July 2009 1:54 pm

      I don’t know if what you call the “elites” (and everyone else calls “economic planners”) are any different in Mexico than in any of the other nations where emigration (Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Ukraine, India, China, etc.) was factored in as an employment source. But, I’m not sure emigration has much to do with whether pseudoephinidrine is being imported through Lazaro Cardenas.

  2. Telzey permalink
    27 July 2009 3:17 pm

    Well, you raised the problem of unemployment in Mexico. I don’t think you can discuss that problem and not mention that the fact that millions of Mexican unemployed have come to the US, thereby reducing the pressures on Mexico’s elites to provide the jobs that you yourself say Mexico so desperately needs.

    Other countries have certainly used the tactic of exporting their social problems to the US, which the US has turned to its own benefit time and again. And it’s not irrelevant to this discussion that those countries that historically have been addicted to this fix have fared very poorly in their social and economic development. As has Mexico.

  3. Anon permalink
    27 July 2009 4:23 pm

    How nice to see The News lifting stories and not citing any sources. Take this statement about Lazaro Cardenas in Michoacan:

    “It is locally known, however, that drug traffickers are offering young men and women wages starting at 10,000 pesos a month. In addition, they offer them perks such as 100,000 pesos in life insurance, transportation, etc. And the young are flocking to the traffickers ranks.”

    It’s known because it was reported on Sunday in El Universal:

    http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/nacion/170052.html

    The News should quit pretending to be so smart and righteous with these editorials and go back to doing original reporting. It should quit lifting material from other newspapers that actually invest in quality editorial content, or, at least attribute the source.

  4. julydogs permalink
    28 July 2009 2:58 pm

    re preference of Chinese exports to US….until Mexico is holding paper on a trillion $$ US debt don’t expect to see a major shift in durable imports from the West to the South anytime soon..

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