Conventional perceptions of Latin America’s organized criminal groups tend to emphasize the greed and violence produced by these groups when, in reality, their existence is much more nuanced than this. Although most associate the presence of criminal groups with heightened levels of violence or drug use, these groups usually do much more than this, often providing certain services and resources to local communities.
Just past 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 25, a family was caught in the crossfire of a shootout between gang members and Mexican marines in the border town of Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. In what has been described by the marines as a series of ambushes by the criminal group, a total of nine people were brutally killed, and 13 injured. Included in these numbers were a mother, father, and their two young daughters, aged 4 and 6 (Univision).
“I saw the [drug cartel] kill someone on the street as I was leaving school. They saw me running away. The threats started this day. They told me if I said anything or moved, they’d kill me. They’d look for me, find me and kill me. The[y] had raped me twice, kidnapped me four times, beat my partner, and mistreated me in so many other ways. They’d said they’d kill me. They also said if I didn’t leave, they’d find my family and kill them, too. So, I decided to go.” Anya, a woman who has fled Honduras, quoted in the UNHCR Women on the Run Report. October 2015).
When many people think of the most devastating conflicts currently playing themselves out around the globe, they often jump to the war in Syria, Afghanistan or Yemen. Although Syria’s civil war did result in the most fatalities in 2016 (an estimated 50,000 people), the second-deadliest conflict occurred much closer to home and was accompanied by a shockingly low amount of reporting – Mexico’s drug war.
In Mexico, the lime has long stood as a staple of popular food and culture. It is used by most Mexicans in everyday cooking and drinks but lately many have been forced to reduce their consumption. Lime prices have skyrocketed due to shortages, and on average have doubled every month this year.1 Various factors such as climate change, citrus diseases, and the on-going violence caused by drug trafficking have led to this shortage.
Not only is the Mérida Initiative undermined, but the Mexican government is increasingly wary to say so. Former president Felipe Calderón criticized during his administration the glaring inadequacy in U.S. efforts to stem the flow of illegal arms south into Mexico.