It’s possible the apparent reductions in violence in Central America are not true, Aguilar said. Cartels understand the backlash if too many murders take place in communities they control, so they’ve learned to dispose of bodies so they’re not counted in official records, she explained.
“Because of the evolution of dismembering bodies, decomposing them, incinerating them, it’s difficult to know if homicides have really fallen,” she said.
All countries south of the U.S. border face the same problem: cartels and gangs fighting to control smuggling of drugs and people to the United States and infiltrating government institutions to help them. Each has used different methods to stem the problem.
In contrast to 2014, when prominent politicians, including Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, rushed to embrace the Bundys for their defiance of the government, this time is gratifyingly different. Republican presidential hopefuls, including Cruz, are staying silent or openly criticizing the takeover. “Every one of us has a constitutional right to protest … but we don’t have a constitutional right to use force and violence and to threaten force and violence on others,” Cruz told reporters in Iowa, calling for the protesters to stand down.