Mexico: Drugs, Death & Disorder

by Dan Aspan*
Special to iVoryTowerz

The escalation of drug related violence in Mexico is beginning to bleed into the United States. So much so that National Public Radio’s Talk of the Nation addressed this issue in detail last week. It is staggering not only to realize how often this type of violence occurs but also to consider how heinous these acts can be. Consider the recent slaying of state police officer Carlos Reyes and his family, which occurred outside the family’s home in southern Mexico. And just last month, a man referring to himself as the “Stewmaker” told Mexican authorities that he had dissolved more than 300 bodies in chemicals while under employment by a powerful Mexican drug trafficker. The man claimed he was paid $600 a week for his services. And recently, The Huffington Post reported that the effects of this brutal battle for drug supremacy in Mexico have overflowed into the United States.

The situation is bad enough without considering the impact the drug war is beginning to have on people inside the United States. The scope of this grisly war is astonishing, and the reality of the situation is scary. It isn’t just Americans living close to the Mexican border who are victims of the struggle. Cities as far away as Anchorage, Alaska and Boston, Massachusetts are believed by authorities to be linked to the Mexican drug cartels. The ubiquity of the drug war is almost as mind boggling as the havoc being unleashed on law enforcement, government officials, and the general public.

Under President George W. Bush, the United States implemented the Merida Initiative, which grants Mexico aid from the United States to training and equip its anti-drug authorities. Although President Barack Obama supports the plan, it may not be enough to give Mexican President Felipe Calderon enough to successfully win this struggle. In fact, the range of the drug insurgency across Central and North America suggests that the United States may have no choice than to engage in a more direct involvement with the situation. As the body count continues to grow and more police officers become targeted, the urgency of the situation is only going to increase.

The United States will be faced with a decision in the coming weeks and months as to how much it will invest itself in this issue. With the American economy dominating the domestic political arena in the United States, it would come as a surprise for Obama to make any solid policy moves on the issue in the short term. But for the people of Mexico, and the people of the United States who are suffering from this situation, help from the United States couldn’t come soon enough.

*Dan Aspan is the producer of Latinocast, a weekly podcast about Latin America.

(For more on the Merida Initiative, please see: "Guatemala's President Colom Genuflects in D.C." and "McCain, Obama & the Same Old Latin American Tango.")

(The graphic was created with the Despair, Inc. parody generator, and uses a photo from eschipul of of Houston, TX via Flickr, using a Creative Commons license.)

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Rick Rockwell said...

This post has proved to be very timely (unfortunately) as this story about the reaction of Mexico's president to the wave of drug violence proves.

Another unfortunate problem: no one on either side of the border has a solution. At least, not a quick solution.

kbgressitt said...

This is a long-term, seemingly perpetual story for those of us who live within commuting distance of the U.S.-Mexico border, and the increased violence (and reporting thereof) makes the lack of a solution all the more frustrating. One challenge to achieving a solution is the collection of U.S. policies that prohibit the type of timely information sharing that would allow more effective collaboration between agencies on both sides of the border.

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