miércoles, 13 de enero de 2016

"El Chapo's Next Escape" (The Huffington Post, January 13th, 2016)

John M. Ackerman

Sooner or later, Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán is bound to escape from prison again. In 2001, he did so by hiding in a laundry basket. Last year, after only 16 months of being locked-up, he escaped through a mile long tunnel dug under Mexico´s highest security prison. Guzmán is now back to the same jail he escaped from this past July 12th, El Altiplano, and there is no reason to believe that he won´t be able to bribe, dig or threaten his way to freedom again. The extradition proceedings to the United States will take at least two or three years, more than enough time for Guzmán to design a successful escape route. 

But in the end it doesn´t really matter whether El Chapo stays in jail or not. Indeed, his business of drugs and death will likely flow more smoothly now that the boss of the Sinaloa Cartel doesn´t have to be in constant movement between mountainous hideouts. He now has time to sit comfortably in his jail cell and coordinate the actions of his top generals, including Ismael "El Mayo" Zambada and his two heirs, Archibaldo and Alfredo.

In a system as rife with corruption and impunity as Mexico´s, individuals matter very little. Even in the unlikely event of a quick extradiction of Guzmán, Sinaloa Cartel stock will continue to price high for many years to come. High demand for drugs and increased border control in the United States, combined with profound economic crisis in Mexico, guarantee high demand for the trafficking, financial and employment services rendered by this powerful multinational network.

Mexico´s Federal Government, led by Enrique Peña Nieto, has taken an erratic approach to El Chapo, to say the least. Guzman´s formidable assets remain intact,almost untouched by the Mexican authorities. Not a single high-level member of the security establishment has been prosecuted for last summer´s spectacular prison break. And the six month man-hunt since then has been full of contradictions...