The Government Failed To Help Them So Drug Cartels Stepped In To Deliver Lifesaving Aid
In the aftermath of the tropical storm Priscilla, the Jalisco cartel has stepped in to provide humanitarian aid to victims. Fortunately, by the time Priscilla hit Mexico’s southwestern coast last week, it was downgraded to a tropical depression as it weakened after making landfall.
The Jalisco New Generation Cartel was recorded on video using their organized crime infrastructure to distribute packages of food in Tomatlán.
Cartel caught on video delivering aid to victims.
“Here we are with all the people giving them aid. The people are very grateful for this support. . .” a suspected CJNG gunman says in a video.
Another man in the footage says the aid comes courtesy of Señor Mencho also known as Nemesio “El Mencho” Oseguera Cervantes.
“This aid . . . comes from the boss, our boss, the señor Mencho,” the man says. “[I’m telling you] so that you know where it comes from, so that you don’t think that it’s from the [family services agency] DIF or another company.”
In the video, two pickup trucks filled with packages of food and aid arrive. Residents of the community in Morelos are seen taking the package.
This isn’t the first time the Jalisco cartel has done social work.
According to Mexico News Daily, children in 15 municipalities in the Veracruz’s mountainous region received toys from the cartel on Children’s Day this summer.
Each gift came with a card that read, “the CJNG wishes you a happy Children’s Day.” The cartel said on social media that it would deliver gifts to the “towns most forgotten by the authorities.”
“We bring a moment of joy and happiness to the children. The Jalisco New Generation Cartel not only looks after the safety of the people of Veracruz, it also seeks to give support to those who need it the most,” they said.
The cartel claims its job is, “is to look after and defend the rights of the working people.” As far as being up for the task? “We are here, steadfast and ready,” they wrote.
Mexico News Daily says the cartel’s humanitarian efforts are really just recruitment methods to groom young children into trusting them.
“The practice appears to be a part of efforts by organized crime to recruit new people. Security Secretary Alfredo Durazo said last September, before he took up his post, that at least 460,000 young people were employed by criminal gangs, according to estimates by various civil organizations,” the newspaper wrote.
Cartels have provided emergency aid in Mexico before.
In 2013, according to Mercury News, the Gulf Cartel which controls the country’s northeast, provided food, water, and medical supplies to a rural town effected by Hurricane Ingrid in Tamaulipas state.
Mercury News notes that it is a common practice for cartels to present themselves as a positive force in society.
“The powerful drug gangs strive to present themselves as the ‘good bad guys,’ interested only in smuggling narcotics to consumers in the United States while leaving Mexican communities in peace,” they wrote.
In a 2014 video, the Gulf Cartel shared a YouTube video of members handing out cakes traditionally eaten by Catholics before Epiphany. The cartel members visited schools, hospitals, poor neighborhoods, and nursing homes.
“We take care of our people and always help,” the video caption read, according to Newsweek.
Cartels use social media to change their public image just like anyone else.
Newsweek suggests that as cartels used more inhumane tactics including throwing human heads into busy dance floors, sewing the face of a victim onto a soccer ball, and hanging bodies off bridges — they’ve also sought to rehab their public image.
The public relations helps the public to “not see them as enemies but rather, as people who can help, so that when there is a police operation, the community does not report them,” says Jorge Chabat, a drug and security expert, told Newsweek.
The practice was also used by Pablo Escobar, who built soccer fields and public housing in Colombia during the 1980s. However, with the rise of social media cartels have taken to YouTube and Facebook to create positive reputations.
In a 2011 YouTube video, cartel members dressed in black with their faces obscured, holding rifles delivered a message.
“Since 2006, we have been fighting for the tranquility and safety of each and every one of our compatriots in the state,” a voice-over said.
Like the social outreach initiatives of American gangs, cartel public service in Mexico exists in a morally grey area. As social services fail the poor, sometimes the more nefarious members of society are the only groups willing to help the most vulnerable. However, the help of the cartel will always come at a price if not for the individuals who face future recruitment than for the society at large.