This is an expansion of a section of an article I wrote back in June of this year called “The Conservative Case for Class Struggle Part 3: Rising Classes” particularly the section about the rise of Latin American drug cartels and their leaders which I dub the Narco Aristocrats, which I recommend the viewer to read first. I will go into the main reasons why we should be concerned about these cartels and why they pose a threat.
- The Economic power of the Cartels
Latin American drug cartels make around 13 to 48 billion dollars a year on drug trafficking alone, which is not counting their other illegal economic activities such as extortion, human trafficking, prostitution, etc that also makes a millions to billions a year. The cartels not only are in both North and South America, but some are also international reaching almost every continent. With this significant amount of money means these cartels can continue to gain more resources in term of raw materials to resources to gain political power. The cartels are not just staying in the black market realm when it comes to economics but also many cartels such as the Cartel Jalisco Nueva Generacion/ CJNG and the Sinaloa Cartel for short has actively expanded into more legitimate economic activities as foreign policy researcher Vanda Felbab Brown has pointed out and which she argues has expanded in recent years especially in Mexico. The cartels do this in a few ways either by taking over the industry completely or by taxing or by being a franchise licenser to local companies to operate in the cartel-controlled area. This means that the cartel has economic hegemony over many areas which means they have political hegemony as well which leads to the next point.
2. The Cartel Political and Cultural Power
With Cartels having immense amounts of wealth means that they have the opportunity to engage in politics successfully. CJGN, Sinaloa, and others have actively bribed by money or violence, and infiltrated many government institutions from politicians, police, and even military. They have also bribed and forced local’s Mexican churches and schools not to preach anti cartel ideals and even sometimes have made these institutions espouse ideas beneficial to the cartel. These Cartels clearly understand the idea of hegemony weather they call it that or not. The cartels have even music called narcocorridos that glorifies the drug trafficking lifestyle. Some of these groups even have started to participate in charity work to persuade locals to their side historical examples would be the Colombian Medellin cartel which built houses for the extremely poor to more modern examples such as CJGN which has started providing cleaning supplies to toys to computers for the local communities. Even provide for those unemployed who have special services such as chemists with jobs to work in their drug labs. When all this does not persuade local officials and population the cartels resort to violence weather by bullets or even by drones. Even making videos of gruesomely killing their opponents.
- 3. Military Power
To many peoples surprises many Cartels such as Clan De Gulfo, CJGN, Los Rastrojos, Sinaloa and many more are not just drug trafficking groups but also paramilitaries that even go head-to-head with Latin American governments such as Colombia, Mexico, Brazil and Venezuela. Even winning at times such as the 2019 Battle of Culiacan in Mexico or being in a dead lock insurgency such as in Colombia and Mexico were hundreds of people die each year and can shut down entire regions for days on in, most recently in the Mexican regions Jalisco, Tijuana, and Guanajuato or in May of this year in the Colombian regions of Bolivar, Sucre, Cordoba, and Antioquia. Both incidents were in retaliation to leaders of certain criminal groups being captured.
Many of these groups have hundreds of thousands of members and even have cross border reach such as Sinaloa Cartel which has partook in the Colombian conflict or even some such as a FARC Dissident faction called the Eastern Bloc has expanded the drug trade and conflict to other neighboring countries like Peru, Ecuador, and Venezuela. In other words, these groups have the ability to be in a standoff against governments and even win at times. Many times, these groups have better weapons than the local police and military and even having military like uniforms with their own symbols and logos.
- 4. Poverty
The wealth disparities in many Latin American countries have made them into breeding grounds for Cartels. Due to recent global economic crisis caused by Covid and Russian Ukraine War has deeply affected many countries around the world including those in Latin America. There are many examples of economic turmoil giving rise to mafias or cartels such as in Eastern Europeans countries like Russia, and Ukraine in 1990s were Russian and Ukrainian mafias were at their peaks. Due to lack of jobs and opportunities make organize crime easier to recruit people and this time is no different as point 2 has pointed out. Meaning that we can expect these groups to grow if the economy becomes worse.
- 5. The Decline of America
While the United States of America has definitely been partially responsible for rise of the Cartels and the Narco Aristocrats, through supporting corrupt government and organizations involved in drug trafficking like Noriega Panama and the Contras in Nicaragua or going farer back with US government and corporations like the International Fruit Company lobbying or throwing coups against Latin American governments so that US corporations can exploit resources and the people of the region worsening the economic conditions of these countries where it made it possible for cartels to prosper. The US and Corporations were obviously thinking of short-term profit and not long-term negative effects of these policies that not only affected Latin America but the United States itself. At the same time the United States has tried to combat the influence of cartels and have provide aid to other countries on the issues and has dismantled a few cartels but largely ineffective. Possibly due to the US being supportive of the trade secretly or arguably the War on Drugs prolonging or intensifying the conflict. However, as corruption and economic conditions worsen in the United States and as the government becomes more ineffective to the solve the migrant crisis and rising crime, along with parts of the American culture that fetishizes gangster lifestyle such as gangster rap, makes it easier for Cartels to expand their influence in ways that they only been able to do effectively in many Latin American countries especially when it comes to US border states like Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, and California. Arguably the cartels will become more effective in dealing with Latin American governments especially those who rely heavily on the United States like Colombia, and Mexico. We may even start to see many border areas to come under the control of these cartels. While this may not happen any time soon it can happen in the distant future if the United States continues to decline. Possibly the cartels and Narco Aristocrats even becoming official rulers in some Latin American countries and parts of the United States or at the very least the drug epidemic in the United States and other places to become far worse.
I write this article as a warning. While my primary concern is still Neo Liberalism and the global capitalist class which I see as a force destructive to all things human and good. I cannot ignore the Narco Aristocrats or Cartels who have the possibility of taking power after Neo Liberalism starts to collapse. I find it disappointing how many in the mainstream and dissident circles downplay the issue or not even touch it at all or in some cases of wanting take control of the Drug trade for themselves like the CATO Institute and Mark Zuckerberg have advocated for, a completely immoral position motivates by greed. There is hope at the same time, Cartels do not provide innovations to society but rather add very destructive elements like drugs and human trafficking, that end up killing people, destroying, trust, social relations, families, and communities. Meaning that the Cartels will not last long as rulers due to being self destructive and some group more innovating and inspiring can come to power if they can work past the cartels. Not to mention the cartels are at a constant state of war with each other which would further disintegrate there hold of power. The Cartels largely rule by fear not by grand ideals that can inspire change or keep a population loyal. Meaning at any given sign of weakness the people or a rival group can overthrow the Cartels. We saw this happen in the Mexican region of Michoacan were peoples militias revolted against the Knights Templar cartel in 2012. A long with many other examples listed in the previous article.
There are two things that one should get out of this article. 1. To quote Mao Zedong “Strategically we should despise all our enemies, while tactically we should take them all seriously.” 2. To pull a principle from Russell Kirk Ten Conservative Principles practically point 4 we should measure policies by their long-term effects not by short term successes. In other words, the United States or whatever replaces the liberal order needs to rethink its policy on Latin America for long term prosperity for the American people and Latin America.