Michoacan is Mexico's big new 'problema'
Michoacan is a Mexican region that most Americans don't know much about. There are no major beach resorts for honeymooners or romantic getaways.
Morelia, the largest city in the state, is a beautiful colonial destination to see the old Mexico of long lunches in an outdoors restaurant, "siesta" and late dinners at a friend's home. Close your eyes in old Morelia and you will feel like you are having a tequila in that "cantina" of "The Treasure of The Sierra Madre".
The state does have a lot of resources, from avocados, lumber and the Lazaro Cardenas PEMEX refinery.
Years ago, Morelia was a charming place to experience old Mexico.Today, beautiful Michoacan is a lawless region:
1) Just yesterday, a high ranking Navy Admiral was killed while traveling with his wife. It may be the highest ranking public official killed by cartels or gangs.
2) There are vigilante groups all over. They fight the cartels and the cartels fight them. The police is nonexistent!
A Mexican friend told me that it is "the law of the bullet" in Michoacan. He used to drive there from Mexico City but won't risk it anymore. He related the story of a neighbor who was assaulted and left out in the open with his wife and small children.
3) A young man in Dallas told me recently that his family farm was burned down by gangs. You pay for protection or they burn you down.
Michoacan is putting President Pena-Nieto's ideas to the test,
Candidate Pena-Nieto criticized President Calderon's use of the military to fight cartels. Of course, President Calderon was forced to use the army because the local police forces were no match for the cartel's weapons and tactics. There was also too much money in the streets and the police was in the pockets of cartels.
My guess is that President Pena-Nieto will have to reconsider his campaign promise and increase the heat on the cartels and gangs loose in Michoacan.
It won't be easy because Michoacan is a bit like Afghanistan with a lot of trees:
"The terrain and culture of the area make the task especially difficult. With lush land for marijuana growing and a major port, Michoacán has been a precious smuggling hub for years. Its winding roads through thick forests and steep mountains favor local knowledge over military might, while the area's small towns have long maintained a distrust of government that makes it easier for criminals to claim they are trying to protect their community from outsiders."
Move over Ciudad Juarez. It looks like Michoacan is where the action is south of the border.