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Secession Movements in Mexico Challenge Federal Power

January 31, 2018 in Economics

By Ryan McMaken

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By: Ryan McMaken

Earlier this month, The New York Times reported on a remarkable development in Mexico. In an article titled “Losing Faith in the State, Some Mexican Towns Quietly Break Away” we discover that some municipalities in Mexico are turning to de facto secession in order to put a stop to the rampant drug-cartel violence that has become so problematic:

Tancítaro represents a quiet but telling trend in Mexico, where a handful of towns and cities are effectively seceding, partly or in whole. These are acts of desperation, revealing the degree to which Mexico’s police and politicians are seen as part of the threat.

Visit three such enclaves — Tancítaro; Monterrey, a rich commercial city; and Ciudad Nezahualcóyotl, just outside the capital — and you will find a pattern. Each is a haven of relative safety amid violence, suggesting that their diagnosis of the problem was correct. 

But why have these areas become safer? 

All three of these areas are dealing with the problem of organized crime and corruption in slightly different ways. But all of the solutions involve working around the established political systems. 

In the cases of Tancítaro and Monterrey, private owners stepped in to provide security in places where crime had run out of control:

[In Tancítaro it] began with an uprising. Townspeople formed militias to eject both the cartel, which effectively controlled much of Michoacán, and the local police, who were seen as complicit. Orchard owners, whose families and businesses faced growing extortion threats, bankrolled the revolt.

This left Tancítaro without police or a government, whose officials had fled. Power accumulated to the militias that controlled the streets and to their backers, an organization of wealthy avocado growers known as the Junta de Sanidad Vegetal, or Plant Health Council. Citizens sometimes call it the Junta.

Nearly four years in, long after other militia-run towns in Michoacán collapsed into violence, the streets remain safe and tidy.

The reform has also been largely a byproduct of private interests in Monterrey as well: 

If Tancítaro seceded with a gun, then the city of Monterrey, home to many top Mexican corporations, did it with a Rolodex and a handshake.

Rather than ejecting institutions, Monterrey’s business elite quietly took them over — all with the blessing of their friends and golf partners in public office.

[Local business owners] hired a consultant, who advised top-to-bottom changes and replaced nearly half the officers. They hired lawyers to rewrite kidnapping laws and began to coordinate between the police and the families of victims.

When the governor later announced an ambitious plan for a new …read more

Source: MISES INSTITUTE

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