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Military Crackdowns Come into Conflict with Economic Needs of Local Communities

LADB Article ID: 80288
Category/Department: Mexico
Date: 2017-05-10
By: Carlos Navarro

A lack of opportunities in the formal economy in many rural communities in Mexico has opened the door for criminal organizations to recruit residents to participate in illicit activities, such as the theft of fuel from government pipelines and the cultivation of poppies and marijuana. This has led to conflicts between the residents, who are seeking to protect their source of income, and the Mexican armed forces, which are trying to eradicate the illegal activities. In some cases, the criminal organizations have attacked the military with the support of the local populations. The siphoning of fuel from PEMEX pipelines provides income for enterprising residents, who sell the stolen fuel on the black market. According to Finance Secretary José Antonio Meade Kuribreña, this practice costs Mexico about 20 billion pesos (US$1 billion) a year. In areas like the Triángulo Rojo (red triangle) in Puebla state, criminal organizations have taken over much of the coordination of the fuel theft, becoming the de facto employers. Criminal organizations are also employing rural residents in their drug operations. The Caballeros Templarios and the Gulf cartel began moving their plantations to the mountains of Oaxaca in 2013, federal authorities say, because of an extensive campaign by the federal government to eradicate production in the mountainous region of neighboring Guerrero.

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