Skip to comments.THE WAR NEXT DOOR
Posted on 12/19/2008 11:02:08 AM PST by AuntB
Mexico has a serious drug problem these days. So serious that over 5,000 people have died this year due to drug-related violence. More than 5,000 dead. And that number keeps growing every day.
How do you begin to understand that so many people are dying in Mexico? More than 5,000 casualties because of "narcotrafficking." Thats more than all of the American troops that have died fighting an actual war in Iraq. It is hard to keep a tally, but Mexico´s El Universal newspaper does a good job of keeping score.
Mexican drug cartels, dominated by the Gulf and Sinaloa cartels, have long been fighting each other for control of lucrative drug smuggling routes into the United States, a business worth over $10 billion dollars a year. And while drugs from Latin America make their way to feed the ferocious hunger for drugs in the United States, about 2,000 American weapons enter Mexico illegally every day, according to a Mexican government report. (Read more about the role of American weapons in Mexico´s drug war.)
It is the excessive amount of money from the illicit trade in cocaine, marijuana, methamphetamines and weapons that not only seduces and corrupts, but is getting so many people killed here every day, and often in a gruesome, blood-curdling way with bodies being dumped outside schools to intimidate society as a whole.
The turning point in the escalating level of violence was when an armed gang rolled five decapitated heads into a packed night club in Uruapan, Michoacán. This was back in September 2006.
Two months later, on Dec. 1, 2006 President Felipe Calderón took office and vowed to crack down on cartels by sending 7,000 troops to his home state of Michoacan. As Calderón asked Congress for more spending on security and less on culture and education, it was clear that Mexican authorities were facing their own head-chopping Taliban. Mexicos war on drugs was officially declared.
But how do you declare a war on drugs when it is not just the "narcos" and the big capos who control the drug-trade? When waging a war on drugs implies so much more than burning poppy fields here and there. How about all the middle-men and women who, for whatever reason, find themselves linked to the flow of money from the drug-trade? Lets hear that figure again: more than $10 billion in cash trickling, in some shape or form, into the Mexican economy.
In a bold move, President Calderon sent a further 10,000 soldiers to join the federal police force, hoping that the Mexican army and the police would work well together in fighting the cartels. Mexican media often report on the lack of trust, intelligence and coordination between these two forces.
"The real problem is the lack of intelligence and not knowing which governor of which state is the real capo," Paco Ignacio Taibo II, a journalist and crime author told W Radio this morning.
Corruption and collusion in the Mexican government is nothing new. Just last month, Noé Ramirez, who headed Mexico's anti-narcotics efforts, was detained for alleged links to drug-trafficking and for accepting a $450,000 bribe to leak information to a drug cartel (the Wall Street Journal has more on this story). The goings on of Mexican officials make Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich look like a softy.
But back to the 5,000-plus people getting killed in Mexico. Who are these 5,000 dead? "The drug-traffickers and the army are just killing each other," is something you often hear in Mexico these days. Not so, according to Mexico´s Human Rights Commission who this week reports that up to 2 percent of all drug war-related deaths are children.
"Collateral damage" is a phrase we are hearing more often in Mexico damage that on Nov. 28 included eight people shot to death at a seafood restaurant in Ciudad Juarez, just across from El Paso, Texas.
CBS News correspondent Bill Whitaker took an exclusive look at how Mexico's problem is crossing the border - a growing danger for innocent citizens and even American tourists journeying south.
But it is not just drug-traffickers, soldiers and innocent bystanders who are losing their lives. Policemen and journalists have long been targeted by drug cartels for simply doing their jobs. According to several press freedom organizations, Mexico is now the most dangerous country for journalists after Iraq. Many journalists here have simply stopped covering drug-trafficking and organized crime for fear of being gunned down.
And then there are the kidnappings. Mexico is the kidnapping capital of the world, with more abductions per capita than any other nation on the planet. Just last week, in a satirical twist of fate, a U.S. anti-kidnapping expert, Felix Batista, was kidnapped in Saltillo, northern Mexico, after giving talks on security to Mexican businessmen. Batista was abducted by an armed gang as he took a cell phone call outside a restaurant. His whereabouts are still unknown.
Two other high profile kidnappings and murders that of 14-year old Fernando Marti and 18-year old Silvia Vargas shocked Mexico this year because of the lack of police professionalism in the investigation and for the implications which alleged that police authorities were linked to Fernado Marti´s abduction and murder.
There are so many reports of so many deaths all the time, that people here are beginning to get "death fatigue." Four policemen killed in Juarez just yesterday. Thats not even headlines here anymore.
President Felipe Calderon´s critics often compare his war on drugs to disturbing a very large hornet's nest. With more civilian deaths every day, the challenges he faces in rooting out drug cartels are mirrored in the number of top officials implicated in the lucrative drug trade.
Even AP, this week states: Mexican drug smugglers pose top crime threat
Associated Press Dec. 15, 2008, 6:34PM http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/nation/6166344.html
Individuals in Mexico cannot own guns.
Drive into Mexico ... and get caught with one empty shell casing in your glove compartment ... You are in BIG trouble.
And so you might ask, why do we continue this “war on drugs.”
Legalize marijuana and take the hundreds of millions that we are spending on eradication, enforcement, legal costs, etc. AND THEN add to this the hundreds of millions that could be collected on consumption taxes similar to alcohol and tobacco.
Not only would it take a huge drain off the federal budget, but would also remove the violence associated with the illegal activity. Legalize marijuana now!
Another CBS report out of Mexico this week:[snip]
The drug traffickers are more reckless and ruthless than ever. A group of terrified school children were caught in the crossfire of a three-hour shootout on the streets of Tijuana. In Juarez, a crime reporter was shot to death, the fifth Mexican journalist silenced this year.
Bill Gore has witnessed the carnage, first as the FBI Special Agent in Charge in San Diego, now as the county’s undersheriff. He says American drug users should realize they have blood on their hands.
“This is not a victimless crime,” Gore said. “That people are dying, literally hundreds of them, on the streets of Tijuana, so they can have their recreational drugs on this side of the border.”
The most extreme violence is just south of the border - nowhere worse than Juarez, across the Rio Grande from El Paso. There have been 16 murders in El Paso this year and almost 1,500 drug-related killings in Juarez.
One grisly new tactic is beheadings. A headless corpse hung above a busy highway almost two hours before police covered it with a sheet - the head found in a nearby park.
In Tijuana, nine men were decapitated last month, three of them policemen, their badges stuck in their mouths - some of the 40 murders in Tijuana occurred in just one weekend.
I thought civilian gun ownership was limited, not banned completely in Mexico...
What is perplexing is that the drug dealers whereabouts are known. In fact, they often live in the same neighborhoods (look for big houses, gated communities with tons of security).
This, unfortunately, is a failure of democracy and the legal system. Democracy requires some degree of cooperation from its citizens.
The next step is to bomb the gangs and wipe them out. However, this is so dangerous in terms of the rule of law, but sometimes it gets to that point.
You are right ... it’s a privilege reserved ror those of status in Mexico.
Nothing in Mexico will change until the people standup and do something. That’s the problem with the illegals in this country. They will sit back and let the government handle things for them. I have always had a problem with people that will willingly leave their country instead of trying to change things.
A Mexican guy in the asphalt biz from Puebla told me that he owned a .38 revolver but could not own a .357...
Stupid people fail to realize that illegal aliens kill over 4000 people per year right here in the USA.
The buttheads in the media got all upset by the body count in Iraq but never said a word about the carnage at home caused by people who shouldn’t be here.
Stupid people fail to realize that illegal aliens kill over 4000 people per year right here in the USA.
The buttheads in the media got all upset by the body count in Iraq but never said a word about the carnage at home caused by people who shouldnt be here.”
Yes, you are exactly right. I’m still stunned they went this far. They did (on the video link) talk about the kidnappings of USA citizens by Mexicans.
Not to mention they could tax the he11 out of it and there you have it....less spending on the war, and more coming in from taxing the sale of the substance.
Also there would bring a new farming substance to the US and hemp could come back!
I agree with both of you, but here’s the thing.
We can’t get the government/our reps to enforce immigration law or build a fence mandated by law they passed.
How will we ever get them to change the law on legalizing weed? I think there’s too much money for those concerned keeping it illegal.
That sounds reasonable, and I personally have no objection to legalizing pot- but that would not solve this problem. The pot smugglers would simply smuggle other drugs. You would have to legalize all drugs and then I imagine they would find something else to smuggle.
“Legalize marijuana now!”
I am soooooo stoned. Yeah, that’ll solve the problem.
Dope, growing, manufacturing, transporting, selling, using are all rough ways to go; lotsa people die!