The tyranny of Mexico’s cartels


Sandra Guerrero

The municipal of Tecomatlán is empty and closed for the day as more residents move out because of poverty.

Cartels continue to slowly reign in Mexico. Without a government providing support, residents resume fighting for their own lives. 

Cartels took over cities such as Jalisco, Sinaloa, and Tijuana in 2022. Of course, these cartels have always worked continuously, but now, it seems the cartels have infiltrated the government, so the citizens have suffered the consequences of living in a place where destructive violence has been normalized. Much damage has occurred in Tijuana as cartels have set belongings on fire and enforced curfews on the cities, and use fear and intimidation to dominate communities. Many citizens claim the government is choosing different sides of multiple cartels. 

According to a video posted on the VICE YouTube channel, a civilian from the town of Apatzingan said, “Here, there’s no good cartel. The United Cartels remain because of the army’s support.” [VICE]

Citizens express their discomfort with the fact the government does not try to dismantle any cartels, whether the government deems them as saviors or criminals.

The same resident of Apatzingán civilian said, “The government shouldn’t support a criminal” [VICE]. Difficult circumstances arise when one tries speaking up for the rights of the people in Mexico, especially the dangerous conditions hounding the country. 

Sadly, many, especially in the U.S., refuse to try and help those coming in from Mexico, as most Hispanics decide moving to the U.S. is better since of its availability and opportunities. Racism continues to play a part in society and more than half of Hispanics and Latinos are victims of hate speech. People fail to realize how difficult it is living in a country where the government chooses its own profit over its people’s lives. Lending a hand is vital in such hard times.

Belen Guerrero, former citizen of Mexico, gave her input on how life used to be.

 “Life in Mexico was extremely difficult. I lived in a very poor town and many of us had to survive on our own. The government (was) not doing much to help either, it was very scary and difficult,” she said.

Even back in the ’80s, the government failed by allowing this terroristic behavior. An example of this extreme corruption is by looking at well-known drug lords throughout history. People such as Pablo Escobar, El Chapo, and Grisdela Blanco, all show glorified actions. The television show, “Narcos” thoroughly dramatized horrible conditions while the government stood by. Authoritative officials in Mexico were known to take bribes from Escobar, forced or out of greed. “Plata o Plomo,” a well-known quote spoken by Escobar, means whoever was choosing to stop production was given a choice, either to be paid by Escobar or to be put to death by his men. Today, cartels continue the horrible, stricken path, using their power to assert dominance over citizens as they force their way into homes and businesses. 

Another video by the VICE YouTube channel interviewed Luis, a junior member of the Regional Coordinator of Community Authorities – Founding Peoples interviewed by VICE explains how he feels about needing to carry a weapon and the preparation to use it. “This is my weapon. It’s a 20 [gauge shotgun.] I don’t like it that much, but there is a criminal group trying to invade, so we decided to get armed,” he said.

Cartels use their power to gather more men and children into their army. Children have become victims, used to fight along cartels or against them. In Ayahualtempa, Mexico, a group of children fight against criminal groups. Boys as young as 10 are trained to carry artillery and use it in combat. Safety has become a privilege for these children; they cannot rely on authoritative figures to protect them no longer. 

On her return from Mexico recently, Sandra Guerrero, 35, said, “I was seeing how the conditions have worsened throughout the time I was visiting. I wasn’t staying in Tijuana, but I could tell the country is suffering.”

Where you are born is not chosen; the people are not at fault for whatever the government chooses to take action upon. The people of a country should not pay the consequences but be supported. Various organizations are taking the opportunity to help residents of Mexico. By spreading information alongside resources, help is bringing better hope for Mexico’s future. 


Save the Children – Organization to help children suffering in various countries. Donations are accepted as a chance to give these children a brighter and safe future.

Mexicans in Exile – A non-profit organization to stop drug use and drug abuse in Mexico. Another thing this organization does is help immigrants fight for their rights. The organization helps those who are shut out to begin building their chance of a new life.