It’s been a few months since I watched this riveting documentary. Still I find myself thinking about it and just what did I take away from it. It is about the drug cartels in Mexico. It follows two men, one on each side of the border. Both are trying to protect people from the violence of the cartels.
It’s not hard to tell who’s right and who’s wrong in this. The cartels are wrong. The question is how do you fight them? What kind of person do you have to be to fight them? What should America do about it? What should Mexico do about it? I’ll be honest there are not answers in this documentary. In the end it raises more informed questions.
The majority of the documentary is spent in Mexico. There it is a life and death issue for those living in the highlighted villages. Harrowing tales of decapitations, of shoot outs, of families wiped out all generations, is beyond heartbreaking it’s enraging. A doctor who had seen enough death and injury comes forward trying to unite the majority against the cartel minority. A wonderful idea that goes oh so wrong in too many ways. The Mexican government won’t respond to calls for help by the villages he unites so they arm themselves. Vigilante mentality takes over and now there are gun battles in the streets, no an improvement. Leaders of the armed groups get a heady taste of power and want more so when his friend turns over to the government that comes it – questions are raised. The doctor is jailed for inciting a rebellion. The doctor is true to his cause not wanting more injured but he isn’t an angel – there’s sexual affairs with women who are attracted to the leader with guns and power.
On the USA side things are much better. We do not have daily kidnappings, tortures, and killings. We have dope runners supplying the demand in the US. One man and his small group fear what the cartels could bring with them – the very things the doctor wants to end. Their answer is a personal armed border patrol to stop the cartels at the border. Yet they are few and the drug mules are many. The drug cartels now have tunnels. This addresses one aspect of the complicated equation but let’s face it if there is a demand here for drugs, the cartels will do all they can to fill it. It takes more than a dozen frightened people with guns patrolling.
As I said Cartelland had no answers only observations. In the end I felt I knew more about the situation on each side of the border. I knew it was complicated and now I see it’s more than people just uniting and saying no. That it doesn’t take angelic men to raise awareness but power does tempt and can corrupt. That neither government sees the dealings as worth getting overly involved with. That poor farmers need money if the crop is avocados or poppies or cooking meth on the side – doesn’t matter to him. He just wants enough to feed his family, put shoes on them, give them a home and hopefully send the children to school. I walked away from this documentary more informed. It will take all of us imperfect people working together to make answers work and they won’t be found solely by picking up arms. The only thing I was sure about is in the climate now if you remove one cartel or leader others will rise to meet the market. The question is what are we internationally going to do about the market that funds this? It’s not a one part answer. Of that I am totally sure, the rest I’m left to ponder and learn more.