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Drug Wars in Mexico Rage On

Americans use drugs, some of them illegal. Americans use guns, and sometimes they even ship arms to foreign countries. Those are unfortunate realities. Another reality is that the Mexican government, despite all of the promised financial aid from the Mérida Initiative to fight the drug problem in Mexico, is unable to control the gang violence. The death toll has reached over 4,000 since Calderon started his anti-drug offensive (some estimates reach 4,500 with 1,300 in Juarez alone). Unfortunately, because of disagreements over how to prevent corruption and protect human rights, none of the money has yet reached Mexico.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Houston, said delayed assistance might jeopardize Mexico's offensive against vicious drug cartels in domestic warfare that has killed nearly 5,000 people over the last two years as gangs battle for turf to smuggle billions of dollars worth of cocaine, marijuana and methamphetamines into the United States.

"Mexico is an important ally," Jackson Lee said. "We should support our strong alliance with them as quickly as we can."

A State Department official, speaking to the Houston Chronicle on condition of anonymity, said bureaucratic hurdles will still be in place when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice meets with Mexican Foreign Secretary Patricia Espinosa in Washington near the end of November for what may be their last summit.

Rice had assured her Mexican counterpart in late October that the bureaucratic process would be completed "quite soon" because the United States considers implementation "an urgent task."

A Mexican diplomat said his government remains realistic about red tape delays.
"I wouldn't say people in Mexico are disappointed or frustrated. They understand that this is just bureaucracy," said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Still, the violence from the Mexican drug war is now spilling over the U.S. border. What is even more disturbing is the extent to which the influence of the Mexican drug cartels has spread around the country. If you look carefully, you may find your own town in the path of the Mexican drug lords.

We face a serious problem. Making it worse is that the youth gangs are now involved in trafficking and enforcement for the cartels on the U.S. side of the border. Further, there are reports of increased anti-law enforcement activities on the U.S. side of the border, especially following recent raids against cartel warehouses.

Part of the problem I have with all of this is that some people in Congress actually “Blame America” for this problem. This, despite some reports that drug use among American youth has declined by over 20% since 2001.

6 Comments

`Drug problem severity' is a function of the range of drugs whose usage a society undertakes to try to suppress. We forget that with Prohibition the U.S. tried to suppress alcohol use. Canada then became a source complete with gangsters. When the associated cost/benefit ratio became too high, Prohibition was repealed. Currently we may be "outlawing" too many drugs. If we shorten the list, we might reduce the number of cited horrors.

Michael, yor point is a valid yet much debated one. If it is determined that marijuana is no longer illegal, then the question of health effects rather than the narcotic effects might become a social issue. The broader question however is that if the American market for illegal narcotics suddenly disappeared, would then, the Mexican drug cartels also disappear? And if they would not, to what end and venture would they go? Personally, I believe that criminal activity will persist and find a new avenue, even if the US market was erased.

Besides, it is the "here and now" that impacts US citizens who lie in the path of the Mexican drug violence that crosses the border.

The map of drug cartel activity in the US is startling. In Texas, Los Zetas, Barrio Azteca, MS-13, and the Mexican Mafia are all active.

With apologies to both, the legalization issue is a red herring.

Instinctively, marijuana is the cited example. Legalizing marijuana will have near zero effect on the cross-border traffic or drug war.

Unless you are going to legalize cocaine and heroine, you will not even dent things. Those are your cash crops for trafficking, as neither are produced in the backyards or closets of its American consumers, unlike MJ.

And legalizing either is insane, and legalizing MJ netting zero effect in the manner suggested.

I wasn't arguing in favor of legalization, Steve. The issue was raised by Michael. As far as I am concerned, legalization distracts from the question of the drug cartels crossing the border, and the absolute that some in Washington DC actually blame American drug usage for the very existence of the drug cartels and as the cause of the violence. That is insane.

"Blame" is not a meaningful term in science - whether natural or social. Rather one seeks variables that may be playing a major role in the phenomenon in question. Only experiment can render decisive answers but ability to experiment is very limited with societies or economies. Therefore all that one can do is look at historical precedents. So one can only speculate. In the case of Mexico we might look at criminal demography: Although the birth rate is now falling and people do live longer, the country is still lopsidedly young. Much of youth is only 1st or 2nd generation urban. Legitimate jobs are scarce. This makes recruitment by drug lords easy. Geographically we're all in North America. The border is only a nuisance to the trade. Such a perspective would suggest that the real "solution" will come of its own accord in, say, 50-100 years.

OK, I agree. "Blame" isn't always the best word. But Mexico, in addition to lopsided age demographics also has a widening economic gap that feeds into the social dynamics of what is happening there.

As for the border, I see that as a matter of national sovereignty and not a "nuisance."

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