As Mexico’s government stumbles in dealing with the massive damage caused by Hurricanes Manuel and Ingrid, organized crime groups are trying to fill the void.
Members of the Gulf Cartel allegedly posted the video above to YouTube showing how a caravan of their pickups brought disaster relief to the town of Aldama in Tamaulipas state after it suffered flooding from Hurricane Ingrid.
One slide in the video says, “Helping out – something politicians and governors haven’t done.” And it adds that members of the cartel “are people like you and I.”
There’s some bogus religious imagery in it but the joy of people receiving the aid seems genuine.
One of Mexico’s most incisive columnists, Raymundo Riva Palacio, went further in a column here (in Spanish), saying that the extent of storm damage will have the Pena Nieto administration on the ropes, what with 58,000 people homeless, tens of thousands of head of cattle killed and more than 1.3 million acres of cropland destroyed.
He calls it a “dangerous cocktail” – in part because drug gangs are poised to benefit by offering aid to stricken communities and winning their affections.
“The federal forces do not have the human capacity to simultaneously deploy across the country in rescue and evacuation operations and offering care to communities. The cartels, however, operate surgically with their potential clientele. Criminals will benefit proportionally from the discomfort of those affected by delays in relief or no relief at all …”
Riva Palacio notes that the ports where precursor chemicals come in on the Pacific side for manufacturing methamphetamine weren’t damaged, and that while marijuana and poppy crops were hit the cartels will charge more for the scarcity, reaping benefits.