Winning Hearts and Minds

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Who Governs Mexico? In this blog, I don’t suggest that organized crime governs all of Mexico, but they certainly have regional influence, often equaling or exceeding the influence that the government offers. Cartels routinely make micro-loans to small businesses and offer low interest and generous repayment terms for the purpose of winning hearts and minds. As noted below, that’s not all that they do. It hasn’t made the Mainstream Media  – but it’s worth noting that in the wake of Hurricane Ingrid, the Gulf Cartel (Cartel del Golfo, CDG) was the only organization providing aid to victims in Tamulipas and specifically in the City of Aldama. 

Yes, they have their own logo.
According to media reports, and my own sources on the ground, CDG convoys transported and handed out tons of food supplies, including water, rice, flour, milk, juice, cookies, canned food, and even beer, to inhabitants of the region that were isolated as a result of the hurricane. Tropical Storm Manuel, which simultaneously struck Mexico, added to the hurricane’s damage; the storms forced thousands to flee and killed more than 100 people, including a number of children. 

As Reuters explains it, “Hurricane Ingrid […] brought heavy rains to Mexico’s Gulf […] coast […], causing landslides and flooding,” and left many rural areas inaccessible after roads washed away. 

The CDG delivered the supplies through waterlogged highways and dirt roads. According to Proceso, the lack of response by the federal and state government to provide aid to affected communities in Tamaulipas led the CDG to start its own recovery efforts. A video uploaded to social networks on September 22 allegedly by the CDG shows footage of pick up trucks transporting and distributing supplies to the victims. The video titled “Gulf Cartel Aiding Aldama, Tamps” (Cartel Del Golfo Apoyando Aldama, Tamps [sic]) alternates between footage of images from the CDG’s hurricane relief efforts and messages such as, “CDG distributes supplies in Aldama, Tamaulipas Mexico,” “Help, something that neither politicians nor governors have done,” and “They take care of people with no interest.”  (the [embarrassing] video was removed from YouTube…)
The released video generated discussion, not just because a criminal organization is aiding and assisting a population in need, but also because it is doing so in place where federal and state government agencies that have not provided the disaster relief the damaged villages require. The comments posted under the video on YouTube and other social media sites exemplify the frustration and confusion among Mexicans. “How is this possible,” one comment reads, “that a criminal organization with such impunity can move among the communities in which government agencies should be present?” 

“Hurricane Ingrid and Tropical Storm Manuel drench Mexico.” Reuters. September 15, 2013. 

Redacción. “Cártel del Golfo reparte toneladas de despensas a afectados por ‘Ingrid’ en Tamaulipas.” Proceso. September 22, 2013. 

“Cártel del Golfo reparte despensas a damnificados en Tamaulipas.” Univisión. September 22, 2013. 

“Cártel del Golfo ‘dona’ víveres a damnificados de Tamaulipas.” Terra Noticias. September 22, 2013.

6 thoughts on “Winning Hearts and Minds

  1. The difference between a private organization used to acting immediately for it's own benefit, and a government organization slowed to a crawl by bureaucracy, inertia and no personal interest.

  2. Yes it does. It's a going concern and needs brand recognition: a logo, a slogan, a mission statement, etc…. This is the new millennium (which is also the name of a Mexican drug cartel.

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