Communities in the shadow of illegality

OPINION: Educational, economic, social and justice affairs have failed. Even though a solution is not deemed easy nor swift, it has to begin immediately
File photo/EL UNIVERSAL
12/05/2017
14:41
Mexico City
Newspaper leader by EL UNIVERSAL
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What drives entire families and communities to engage in criminal activities to earn their living?

Cases of minors joining the ranks of criminal groups as “hawks” or gunmen have yet again, being aired in our country.

Take Tenancingo, a village in Eastern-Central state of Tlaxcala, where successive generations within a number of families make a living out of human trafficking. A number of well-structured family networks lure young women and fool them into prostitution both in Mexico and the U.S.

Recently dismantled kidnapping gangs have exposed a clearly defined family structure in which each member, whether it be the children, wife or grand folk, played a specific role in the victim’s kidnapping.

Similarly, the recent fuel-theft crisis hitting the Red Triangle, an area made up by the municipalities of Quecholac, Tepeaca and Palmar de Bravo in the central state of Puebla has disclosed the loyalty of the whole of the population that rises up in defense of criminal groups that siphon gasoline and diesel from illegal pipeline taps of sate-run oil company Mexican Petroleum (PEMEX). Women and children have been used as human shields when a confrontation between criminal groups and the Mexican military forces broke out earlier this week.

Communities in the Red Triangle show a lack of urban development as well as a quality of living for that matter. Surely there are a number of communities in similar conditions in the rest of the country, however, they do not necessarily translate into regions harbouring illegal practices. Is the Mexican youth driven into the shadow of illegality as a result of lack of opportunities? This may very well be one of the reasons as only a quarter of said demographics has access to education according to the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), while half the population works and or studies leaving the remaining quarter jobless or engaged in informal economy practices for lack of proper schooling. The last segment of the Mexican youth, the one without any job or education perspectives, fits the criminal groups’ operations just perfectly.

Both local and federal governments cannot afford to ignore the needs of this sector of society and much less throw all of its potential away. Should the whole of the Mexican youth had access to quality education, they would contribute to the family development and, in consequence, to that of the Mexican population as a whole.

The economic crisis of the country seems like another reasonable cause that drives young Mexicans into the criminal world. For, how can a young person be motivated to spend several years pursuing a college or university degree if he is to add to the ranks of unemployment in the end? In the best of cases, he will simply make enough money to provide for his basic needs.

The complicity of Mexican authorities with criminal groups cannot be discarded. How else can one explain the advancement of the present stat of affairs in the country?

We are facing a complex issue of a structural nature, where several elements have gone wrong. Educational, economic, social and justice affairs have failed. Even though a solution to the latter is not deemed easy nor swift, it has to begin immediately.

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