The drug war & an orphan Mexico

Given the situation of their communities, drug war orphans, in most cases, have no other choice but to join a criminal gang

The drug war & an orphan Mexico
Children at a temporary shelter – Photo: Michel Narvaez/EL GRÁFICO
English 29/04/2018 09:09 Mexico City Newspaper Leader by EL UNIVERSAL Actualizada 09:09

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After almost 12 years of the drug war, Mexico is full of grieving families who have lost a loved one, or several. In this harsh context, giving the state of defenselessness they are left with, the most dramatic cases are those of children who lose one or both of their parents.

But we're not only talking about lives cut short by the death of the people who brought them to this world – with all the traumas and the difficulty it entails for a minor to overcome such an unnatural shock – but also of lives subjected, due to their status as orphans, to the design of an adverse and decisive social context: that of their communities, engulfed in criminal violence, reason why their expectiations – or their only options – in life, in most cases, are limited to joining a criminal gang.

That is, in all these cases a vicious cycle closes, similar to a cancer cell which keeps reproducing itself in the families trapped in this war on drugs. A war whose only strategy – that of frontal combat – has proved its failure both, in reducing violence and drug trafficking and in improving our social environment, widening the gap between those individuals, families, and whole communities who find themselves in the middle of criminals, on the one side, and the armed forces, on the other.

The Mexican government doesn't have a census of all the orphans, victims of organized crime but there are unofficial records and documentation from international organizations which gives us a close idea of the magnitude of the problem. For example, the Child Rights Network in Mexico (REDIM) published its first report Children in the Armed Conflict in Mexico which estimates there are 30,000 orphans across the country, while the Vulnerable Groups Commission of the Lower Chamber goes further, with 40,000. The states of Michoacán and Tamaulipas are especially concerning due to the high number of orphans estimated in both, states which have a greater presence of organized crime.

These numbers, terrifying in their magnitude, are even more concerning if we think – without criminalizing the victims but sticking only to the social dynamic – that we have here an explosive cocktail of poverty, marginalization, and ignorance which could foster a new criminal element. Thus the importance of not only defending all these children but offer them opportunities.