Armas No. 5 — The southern question, again.
Mexican violence, Latin American strategic autonomy, and American choices.
Perhaps you saw civil aviation mostly shut down in Sinaloa last week, thanks to a cartel uprising there following the arrest of Ovidio Guzmán, the least important of the Chapitos.
Aeromexico’s promise of a “passenger protection policy” is darkly comic: what can they do when cartel light infantry is assaulting local airfields to prevent their own leadership’s transport to prison? The answer is: not much, except perhaps urge the Mexican state to actually act and behave as a true sovereign across its own national territory.
All this is of a piece. If you didn’t read Armas No. 2, on the reemergence of Latin America into world history, take a moment and have a look.
Completely coincidentally, on the very same day, this piece from Mauricio Cárdenas went live in Americas Quarterly, and it presents essentially the same analysis from a very different viewpoint. Cárdenas, who has served in a variety of academic and policy positions in both the United States and Colombia across the past several years, was most notably the minister for energy, and then the minister for finance, in the 2010-2018 Colombian presidential administration. That administration, under Juan Manuel Santos, was broadly conservative and broadly committed to good relations with the United States — so the analysis here is not from the Latin-American left.
What Cárdenas asserts is notable. He concurs with the Armas analysis, but dissents from the conclusions.
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