View Full Version : Mexico's Drug War Slaughterhouse Grinds On
05-02-2010, 11:14 PM
Mexico's Drug War Slaughterhouse Grinds On
By Oswaldo Perez Cabrera, Cannabis Culture - Monday, April 26 2010
CANNABIS CULTURE - The open war of Felipe Calderón's Mexican government against organized crime and drug trafficking has reached nearly 18,000 victims, according to the judicial authorities of Mexico.
However, many believe the number is above 20,000 dead. Calderon has recently deployed more than 5,000 soldiers of the Mexican army to all parts of the country, 600 of them to the state of Chihuahua where lays Ciudad Juarez, the most violent city in the world today. Official information states there are 45,000 elements of the army on active duty against drug traffickers whose elements are rotated every 40 days to prevent corruption.
In this first part of the year, there are already more than three thousand dead that include civilians, journalists, army and of course, members of the organized crime. Last year there were 7,700 murders linked to the war drug.
Shocking statistics from a western democracy that Canada regards as a safe country when it receives refugees from Mexico, but at the same time issues travel warnings to Canadians travelling there.
Comparing these statistics with those of Canada's current war in Afghanistan is dumbfounding. Canada has more than 140 casualties in Afghanistan and it has created a debate that will not end until the soldiers leave that country.
One can only ask: Is violence a new normality in Mexico? Is it normal to have violence scattered all over the territory? Is it that life is not worth anything any more? Who benefits from this?
The suffering of the civil society of Mexico has been tremendous. To this war we have to add the kidnappings and the violence generated by petty crime because of the large amount of poverty. The result is a unprecedented chaos.
We can find most of the responsibility of this war on the other side of the border, in the United States of America. The US government and the civil society are responsible through the sale of weapons (http://www.alternet.org/drugs/132120/mexico's_drug_war_bloodbath:_guns_from_the_u.s._ar e_destabilizing_the_country/) and the market for drugs (http://www.cannabisculture.com/v2/content/vast-us-illegal-drug-market-fuels-mexican-cartels).
It is a curious fact that the weapons that are used in both sides of the Mexican drug war are all acquired in the United States. The Mexican government weaponry includes American helicopters and the cartels arsenals include high caliber arms. Millions in business for the weapons industry.
We can conclude without mistake that the US is a great culprit of this debacle. In reality, this war against narcotrafficking is just another USA-financed war being waged outside the US's territory.
The US has supported these kind of conflicts in the past because, in fact, it is not interested in public health or security, but business and geopolitics.
Through the Mérida Initiative (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mérida_Initiative), the US gives monetary and military assistance to the Mexican government to fight organized crime with the excuse that Mexican drug cartels are a threat to their national security.
They claim that the violence could be exported. They seed fear in their citizens, who become paranoid, producing an exacerbation of racism and stereotypes. There are more than 40 million Latin Americans living in the USA.
On December 15th of last year, the USA government handed out 5 Bell-412 helicopters and promised help of 1350 millions of dollars in kind, in the form of staff, consultants and equipment. This aid is a great business for the decision makers in the US, as many of these military companies have ties to members of congress and other high-ranking politicians.
The Pentagon is one of the winners because they sell weapons, they send their men and they can intervene in the internal affairs of Mexico to ensure security of the zone. NAFTA is the biggest free-trading market in the world, so they want their products there. Mexico is an important territory for them, even though they consider it their backyard. The aid which will be services, consultants, equipment and technology will benefit the providers in the USA. In the meantime they opened a bi-national anti-drug bureau with 45 American agents who are working inside the country.
The war against drugs waged by the USA government has been useless and very expensive. The failure is more obvious than their defeat in Vietnam. They have been fighting against drugs and spending billions of dollars for more than a 100 years without any results. The criminal organizations have become more powerful because the government allows them to profit with illegal goods. Drug consumption rises instead of diminishing, offering products that give a 100% of utilities in easy and quick cash. As long as drugs remain illegal there will always be criminal mafias profiting from this hen of golden eggs. There will always be demand that could wane if we legalize the substances and educate the population.
In their own country, concerned US citizens are pushing for legalization of marijuana in states like California and Colorado. Mexico's decriminalization of small amounts of drugs for personal use (http://rawstory.com/blog/2009/08/mexico-legalizes-drug-posession/) has not stopped the violence, and makes little sense without similar reforms for laws dealing with producers and distributors.
According to reports from the Office of National Drug Control of the USA, in 2008, 2,000 Americans consumed cocaine daily. 12.6 millions said they have consumed Methamphetamine at least once in their lives, 8.4 millions have tasted crack and a staggering 102 million have smoked a toke at least once in their existence. More than 100 millions! It is 41% of the population. So according to the policies of these office half of the USA population are criminals.
Their study showed that more than 15 million people use marijuana regularly or chronically and 26 million used it every year. In addition, 2.2 million tried it last year for their first time in their lives - that is six thousand every day.
Do you want more statistics from a government source? 38% of students said they consume it in 2008 and half of them have tried it at least once in their lives, some of them since they were twelve years old. In total, more than 30 million of smokers live in the USA.
We have to add more than a million smokers in Canada and the millions of addicts that live in Mexico. Mexico became a consumer after being a route for the drugs.
It is all a great market that is handed over exclusively to illegal drug dealers.
Calls for change (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123535114271444981.html) can be heard in the distance, but is anybody in the Obama Administration listening?
I want to thank my great friend Marc Emery for this CC article
05-04-2010, 01:53 AM
Inside the War on Drugs
A Binational War on Drugs Pits the U.S. and Mexico Against a Panoply of Enemies
Robert Valencia May 3rd 2010
Council on Hemispheric Affairs
On March 23, 2010, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael G. Mullen visited Mexico City in a massive and unprecedented display of support to President Felipe Calderón as well as his beleaguered Mexican military and civil colleagues, who are shouldering the bulk of the fight in the anti-drug war against traffickers along their common border.
In the course of the visit, Secretary Clinton referred to the previously authorized $ 1.4 billion budget for the “Mérida Initiative,” as a collaborative security program between the United States, Mexico, and the Central American nations. Its purpose is to provide an intelligence capacity as well as a training regime for regional law enforcement officials as well as sophisticated military aid and detection technology to their drug enforcement officers. Dispatching the high level U.S. initiative to Mexico City is meant to signal a firm U.S. commitment to end the bloodbath now occurring across the Río Grande.
One might think that $1.4 billion would be a generous budget to fight the growing conflict that is destroying the inner fabric of Mexican and Central American society. But the fight against drugs involves more than a token dosage of funds and a military buildup—it requires a serious political and security commitment involving deeds as well as words and close collaboration between the U.S. and Mexico. In order to be successful, this effort will have to entail neutralizing criminal organizations, the creation of corruption-free institutions, the pursuit of a non-porous border, and the formation of empowered local communities willing and able to help contain the violent agenda of the drug cartels.
A report prepared by Mexican authorities points out that President Calderón has launched a new program called “We Are All Juárez” aimed at fostering employment, creating anti-addiction programs, jobs, parks, opening galleries, and building schools in the most violent neighborhoods of the city. According to Mexico’s Citizen Council for Public Security and Justice, Ciudad Juárez has become one of the world’s most violent urban centers, with 191 murders for every 100,000 residents per year. Although these planned projects pinpointed by the Mexican side seem to shed some hope on the drug-stricken city, experts such as Leticia Castillo, coordinator of the sociology department at the Autonomous University of Ciudad Juárez, questions whether gains that have been achieved up to now can be maintained if corruption or impunity continues to prevail.
Mexico and Colombia: Parallel Stories but a Failure in
It would be an exaggeration to say that Mexico is a failed state or that it has fallen under the same pattern of protracted warfare that Colombia has been suffering for more than 50 years. But both countries share a common fate when it comes to coping with the flow of drugs and the battle against their producers, traffickers and the gangs that dominate the cartels’ trade in illicit substances. Although the Mexican phase of the drug war began in earnest in the late 1980s, by 2006, Mexican authorities had become increasingly engaged in the fight against the principal cartels even before then. It was during this period that the public began to become absorbed with what was happening in Cuidad Juárez.
In this process, Tijuana, the Beltrán-Leyva Cartel, Los Zetas, los Negros, the Sinaloa Cartel, Gulf Cartel, and La Familia Michoacana cartels all became the equivalent, to one degree or another, of nation-states. Recently, President Calderón has dispatched 6,500 Mexican troops to Cuidad Juárez and across the country, nearly 45,000 members of the armed forces, as well as state and federal police officers, have now been allocated to various stages and fronts of the drug war.
Enduring combat has led to numerous casualties on both sides of the conflict: more than 1,000 police officers and members of the federal forces have been killed and dozens of journalists reporting on the conflict have lost their lives in recent months alone. In addition, more than 20,000 cartel gun slingers and leaders (chief among them, Marcos Arturo Beltrán Leyva, head of the Beltrán-Leyva Cartel) have lost their lives, and an additional 50,000 have been detained.
Mexico’s latest large-scale drug engagement dates back to the 1980s when Colombian drug cartels—dominated by Pablo Escobar and his Medellín Cartel—presented a similar tableau of violence that is currently jolting Ciudad Juárez. The Colombian cartels came to prefer Mexico’s smuggling routes into the United States after Washington’s anti-drug law enforcement programs had become more effective at interdicting drug shipments to South Florida, as well as throughout the Caribbean. With an established source for heroine and marijuana, as well as ideal transportation and a huge adjacent market, it became clear that Mexico now possessed the right logistics and infrastructure for Colombian kingpins to distribute their inventory in the U.S. market.
Just as in today’s Mexico, when the Colombian government first decided to crack down on the then burgeoning Medellín and Cali Cartels, Bogotá’s war on drugs began to rack up a murderous toll on the country. An early victim of the stepped-up conflict was Rodrigo Lara Bonilla, then-Minister of Justice during the Belisario Betancourt administration. In 1984, two young hitmen ambushed the minister and killed him. This dolorous event began the first lengthy string of assassinations that came to include lawmakers, journalists, political figures, as well as hundreds of police officers and members of the military.
On August 18, 1989, even Luis Carlos Galán, whose strong stance against Pablo Escobar helped place him in the lead in the presidential polls, was murdered while surrounded by a throng of adoring followers and bodyguards.
The dreams of many Colombians were shattered after Galán’s death (the equivalent of the gunning down of Mexico’s PRI Presidential candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio), jarring the country’s very stability and orderly political development.
Similar to today’s Mexico, Colombia was subject to the daily toll of abductions of important media and political figures hence, providing Gabriel García Márquez’s inspiration for his book, News of a Kidnapping. It was during this period that car bombings in major urban sprawls and constant threats leveled against various governmental agencies began in the late 1980s.
This started occurring after the Virgilio Barco administration had successfully extradited detained kingpins to the United States.
These terrorist acts were mainly planned by a group called “Los Extraditables” to which Escobar belonged along with other top Colombian kingpins such as Fabio Ochoa Vásquez and Gonzalo Rodriguez Gacha. As a group, they adamantly opposed the government’s initiative to send them to the U.S. prisons, as evidenced by the slogan “We prefer a grave in Colombia than a U.S. cell.”
During the early 1990s Bogotá, with a good dose of intelligence assistance from Washington, did not succumb to Escobar’s demands. Colombian officials became emboldened to lay siege to the drug market worth hundreds of millions of dollars at the cost of tens of thousands of casualties on all sides. The Gaviria administration managed to gun down Escobar in 1993. During the Ernesto Samper administration, which lasted between 1994 and 1998, the Cali Cartel led by the Rodriguez Orejuela brothers, was dramatically decimated. In 2000, toward the end of the Clinton White House, Washington began to support Colombia with augmented hardware, software, training and strategic support against the FARC guerrillas as well as the drug traffickers.
Under the “Plan Colombia,” a six-year blueprint to end Colombia’s drug trafficking and to bolster social development, a number of objectives were reached. Despite still being the world’s main producer of narcotics, U.S. diplomats would insist that Colombia is safer today, due to Bogotá’s “Democratic Security” initiative fashioned by the Uribe administration. This has allowed Colombian society to engage in a more proactive role in reducing the nation’s level of violence. According to the la Casa de Nariño, the result has been a significant drop in homicides, kidnappings, and terrorist attacks by a figure of almost 50 percent as of 2004 (the lowest in almost 20 years).
Mexico would be wise to learn from Colombia’s painful experience if it wishes to regain control of its sovereignty and territorial domain. But it must safeguard itself against learning the wrong lessons. In fact, President Álvaro Uribe expressed his solidarity with the Mexican government in 2009 in its effort to neutralize that country’s drug lords. But President Calderón’s plan must become not only national in scope, but it must also be free of corruption, effective in design, and take a comprehensive approach in targeting its goals. In fact, Colombian society was largely distorted and self-manned with the help of inappropriate strategies vended by Washington.
This means that Mexico’s anti-crime and drugs campaign must be social instead of just being security-oriented. This must include a zealous concern for the strict observance of human rights and civic guarantees. Regarding its determination in upgrading its law enforcement capacities, Mexico’s efforts must be fused to Washington’s fulfillment of its good faith efforts to cut the flow of U.S.- sourced weapons being smuggled into Mexico and to slash the demand for Mexican-supplied drugs.
To reiterate, suppression of the drug gangs must take place within a context in which democratic procedures are respected. A Plan Mexico modeled after Plan Colombia might be beset by problems resulting from a dramatically different set of political and historical factors if Washington searches for parallels in both countries.
The Beginnings of a Bi-National Drug War
The United States, as recently acknowledged by Secretary Clinton, can be held partially accountable for Mexico’s fragile situation. But this is not the first administration, nor the first time Washington has faced a similar challenge. Since the Nixon years, and through numerous subsequent administrations, Washington has had to grapple with increasing drug use among its own youth. However, the so-called “Forgotten War” has become even more marginalized, and now not only do Mexican drug dealers operate on their own turf, but also increasingly across the border in United States. It can now be said that the drug war has become bi-national.
According to Lynn Roche, of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, 90 percent of the weaponry seized in the aftermath of an episode of gang violence is likely to have originated in the U.S. and used by gang members and drug dealers to attack the authorities and as well at each other.
The nature of the Obama administration’s commitment to Plan Mérida, which arguably is grossly underfunded, was supposed to be illustrated by sending a high-level delegation to Mexico. This interest in Mexico is based on the fact that the anti-drug battle is increasingly being fought on both sides of the border.
Now that it is facing a fused conflict where the stakes facing the U.S. are potentially as dangerous to this country as it is to its southern neighbors, Washington is being forced to acknowledge that the anti-drug conflict has to be fought not only on Mexican soil, but also on its own. The need to keep a tighter control on the influx of guns across the Mexican border is no less serious than the of interdiction drugs headed for the U.S. border. As the White House acknowledges the gravity posed by the drug war, it can now be expected to take over much of the funding and operations of the anti-drug war in close collaboration with Mexican authorities.
It is a long and treacherous road ahead to end the war on drugs, as Mexican entrepreneurs and their U.S. and South American confederates have found new routes such as through Haiti, Dominican Republic, and Guinea Bissau, more effectively to smuggle cocaine and other illicit substances.
Robert Valencia is a research fellow with the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, from which this article was adapted.
05-20-2010, 04:55 AM
Legalizing drugs -- what Obama and Calderon won't discuss
By Edward Schumacher-Matos
The best thing that can be said about the 23,000 people who have been killed during Mexican President Felipe Calderon’s campaign against drug cartels (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=126973073) in the last three years is that it proves that the war on drugs will never work.
President Obama calls Calderon Mexico’s Elliott Ness and is receiving him today in an official state visit (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/19/AR2010051903350.html). Calderon is surely a brave man, and he is right to fight to curb the power of the drug cartels inside Mexico. His predecessor as head of his National Action Party, former presidential candidate Diego Fernandez de Cevallo, has gone missing; the suspicion is that a drug cartel has kidnapped him. The cartels have infiltrated much of the police and government and run many border towns through fear.
But Elliott Ness never stopped illegal liquor. The lifting of Prohibition did. Similarly, the only solution to the drug trafficking and violence on both sides of the border is to legalize drugs.
That, however, won’t be on the agenda in the talk between the two presidents. Rather, the talk will be of improving police intelligence collaboration, of speeding up delivery of promised military aid under Plan Merida, of cutting off the flow of guns and money back into Mexico, of Mexican efforts to clean up corruption and improve its enforcement capabilities. All that is necessary for Mexico’s normal development and immediate crisis, but none of it will put much of a dent in the flow of drugs.
Some in Congress cite Colombia as an example of what can be done with enough Latin guts and American money -- $6 billion under Plan Colombia. But while it is true that there are no longer politically powerful Colombian kingpins of the likes of Pablo Escobar, the amount of cocaine coming out of Colombia has hardly changed. Indeed, we can’t stop the drug trade on the streets of our own suburbs, cities and towns.
Calderon has proved that Mexico has been willing to sacrifice, but there is simply too much money involved. By some estimates, $15 billion a year is sent back to Mexico. And let's be gruesomely honest: all that money comes from Americans who continue to smoke and snort Mexican blood at will. Yet other Americans, such as the governors of Arizona and Texas, want to slap Mexico in the face by sending more National Guard troops to the border. Where does responsibility for the law-breaking lie?
Still, both Democrats and Republicans in Congress have gotten in on the act, demanding more border enforcement. Even New York’s Sen. Charles Schumer (D), bless his liberal heart. The grandstanding makes for good domestic politics, but little common sense. It plays on people’s fears of crime and violence “spilling” across the border, fears stoked by the 24-hour news cycle and all of us in the media who use such shorthand phrases. The fact is, however, that there is almost no crime “spilling” across the border (http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/washington/2010/05/arizona-immigration-crime-border-safer.html). With the glaring exception of kidnapping among cartel members in Phoenix, crime is down in the border states.
Border towns such as El Paso, Texas, and Nogales, Arizona, are rated as some of the safest places in the country. Most border mayors from Texas to California oppose militarizing the border. The El Paso city council voted for a resolution condemning Arizona’s new anti-immigrant law. Earlier, sensibly, it voted for a resolution in favor of a national legalization of drugs.
Maybe we should move the capital to El Paso.
07-17-2010, 04:41 AM
Deadly Mexican drug gang attack 'was car bomb'
Emergency services attend the aftermath of the attack
Investigators in Mexico say a deadly attack by suspected drug cartel members in the northern city of Ciudad Juarez was a car bomb set off by mobile phone.
It is believed to be the first attack of its kind since President Felipe Calderon took office in 2006, promising to curb powerful drugs gangs.
Two police officers and two medics answering an emergency were killed.
Police said the attack was retaliation for the arrest of a leader of the La Linea drug gang, Jesus Acosta Guerrero.
"There were 10kg (22lb) of explosives, activated from a distance by a cellphone," Enrique Torres, a spokesman for the army in Ciudad Juarez, said.
At least 16 other people were injured in Thursday's attack, police said.
Ciudad Juarez is just across the border from El Paso, Texas. It has long been the battleground for cartels fighting for control of lucrative drug smuggling routes into the US.
More than 7,000 people have died in drug-related violence in Mexico so far this year. Almost 25,000 have died in the past three and a half years, according to figures released by the office of Attorney General Arturo Chavez on Friday.
Mr Chavez said the rising figures demonstrated that the cartels were under pressure from the government crackdown.
He said 75,000 weapons had been decommissioned in the same period and 78,000 people had been detained in drug trafficking operations.
President Calderon has despatched thousands of troops to regain control of areas of the country long dominated by powerful cartels.
08-28-2010, 11:01 AM
Mexico bleeding to death
Another 72 corpses found in a new mass grave. Feuding cartels blamed for displays of mutilated bodies. Death toll in four-year drugs war passes 28,000
By Guy Adams in Los Angeles
Thursday, 26 August 2010S
Police at the scene of another shooting, in Ciudad Juarez, last week - one of at least 20 killings reported that day. Seventy per cent of Mexicans now say that they are frightened to go out because of the drug cartels
Police at the scene of another shooting, in Ciudad Juarez, last week - one of at least 20 killings reported that day. Seventy per cent of Mexicans now say that they are frightened to go out because of the drug cartels
The shootout left four people dead, but that was just the beginning. As dust began to settle on a ranch in north-eastern Mexico, thought to have been owned by one of the world's most powerful drug cartels, the battle-hardened Marines stumbled upon their first decomposing corpse.
Minutes later, they found a second, then a third. By the time troops had finished searching the remote property, roughly 90 miles from the US border, a total of 72 contorted bodies had been laid out in rows beneath the summer sunshine. The 54 men and 18 women had all been recently murdered.
A lone wounded survivor, who was left for dead but later stumbled upon a military checkpoint, told local newspapers yesterday that he and the victims were illegal migrants from Central America trying to make their way to the US. They had been taken hostage by the Zetas, a gang of drug-runners who have recently taken to kidnapping and human trafficking. The Ecuadorian man said his group was taken to a ranch by gunmen and shot after they refused to pay ransoms.
The discovery on Tuesday afternoon marked a new low in a brutal conflict that has taken the lives of an estimated 28,000 Mexicans since the President, Felipe Calderon, declared "war" on the nation's wealthy and extraordinarily well-armed drug cartels in 2007.
Troops originally raided the ranch near San Fernando, in the Gulf coast state of Tamaulipas, after a man with gunshot wounds approached a military checkpoint and said he had been attacked by a narcotics gang. Naval helicopters were dispatched to the ranch but, as they approached, several gunmen opened fire with automatic weapons and tried to flee in a convoy of vehicles. In the ensuing shootout, a Marine and three suspected cartel members were killed.
At the ranch, the Marines seized 21 assault rifles, shotguns and rifles, with 6,000 ammunition rounds. Then they discovered what a spokesman called "the lifeless bodies of 72 people". It was not clear whether the victims were separately, or in a single massacre.
Video: 72 dead at Mexico ranch (http://static.octopusmt.com/flash/httpflash/independent/WCR-BUPA099-030_high_16-9.flv)
Mass graves are becoming an increasingly common by-product of the wave of drug-related violence sweeping the country. In May, 55 bodies were pulled from abandoned mine near Taxco, just south of Mexico City. Last month, 51 more were unearthed from a field next to a rubbish tip near the northern city of Monterrey.
They provide stark reminders of the growing cheapness of life in a conflict that is constantly plumbing new depths of barbarity. Over the weekend, four decapitated bodies, their genitals and index fingers cut off, were hung upside down from a bridge just outside the nation's capital. Two more were dumped nearby on Tuesday.
"The federal government categorically condemns the barbarous acts committed by criminal organisations," the Navy said of the latest atrocity.
"Society should condemn these acts, which illustrate the absolute necessity to continue fighting crime with all rigour."
Tamaulipas, on the north-eastern tip of Mexico bordering Texas, provides a stark illustration of the problems facing the forces of law and order across the country, as they attempt to crack down on gangs smuggling cocaine from South and Central America, where it is produced, to the US, where most of it is consumed.
For years, local supply routes were controlled by the Gulf Cartel, a long-established criminal organisation which kept its activities largely beneath the public radar. But in 2007, shortly after the newly-elected President Calderon announced a crackdown on the drugs trade, several of the group's leaders were arrested. Instead of finishing off the cartel, though, that led to the rise of a rival group, the Zetas. The subsequent turf war has claimed hundreds of victims.
It is also thought to have led to widespread corruption at the highest levels of the police and civil service, together with the murder of Rodolfo Torre Cantu, a popular candidate for state governorship, who was shot dead in his car in June in Mexico's worst political killing in 16 years. Mr Calderon told Mexicans this week to brace themselves for further killings. But he argued that the spate of deaths showed that his crackdown, which has involved replacing often-corrupt police forces with government soldiers in many regions, is slowly working.
"I do not rule out that there might be more bouts of the violence we are witnessing, and what is more, the victory we are seeking and will gain is unthinkable without more violence," he said.
"But this is a process of self-destruction for the criminals."
Although most Mexicans support Mr Calderon for now, a growing minority believe that the drugs war will be impossible to win. Earlier this month, former president Vicente Fox, a staunch supporter of the US crackdown on drugs, said recent events had won him over to the cause of legalisation. "It does not mean drugs are good," he said. "But we have to see it as a strategy to weaken and break the economic system that allows cartels to earn huge profits."
To legalise or not to legalise: the drugs war in words
Mexican President Felipe Calderón, June 2010
"It is as though we have a neighbour next door who is the biggest addict in the world, with the added fact that everyone wants to sell drugs through our house... If we remain with our arms crossed, we will remain in the hands of organised crime, we will always live in fear, our children will not have a future, violence will increase and we'll lose our freedom."
Former Mexican President Vicente Fox August 2010
"We should consider legalising the production, sale and distribution of drugs... Radical prohibition strategies have never worked."
US President Barack Obama April 2009
"At a time when the Mexican government has so courageously taken on the drug cartels that have plagued both sides of the border, it is absolutely critical that the United States joins as a full partner in dealing with this issue... also on our side of the border, in dealing with the flow of guns and cash south."
Samuel Gonzalez, former anti-drugs prosecutor, August 2010
"In almost four years the government cannot claim any kind of victory and the debate is the result of the crisis of legitimacy in the strategy. But at least it is now being discussed and that has to be a good thing."
09-19-2010, 04:55 AM
Even in Wine Lover's Paradise, Drug War Takes Its Toll
PBS NewsHour, News Report, Jose Luis Sierra, Posted: Sep 19, 2010
VALLE DE GUADALUPE, BAJA CALIFORNIA, Mexico | Not even a place that could be considered Eden has been able to escape the war on drugs. Tucked on a green, hilly area 60 miles south of the U.S. border, Guadalupe Valley remains one of the best kept secrets by wine lovers and one of the few places in the northern part of the peninsula that seems to have escaped the passing of time.
Forget your cell phone. You might not need it ... and it might not work. Relish a village where the day of the week or the hours of the clock become as inconsequential as the clothes you are wearing or the car you are driving. Whatever is important outside Valle de Guadalupe has little meaning here.
"I get up before the sunrise and do what I have to do. If I see that the fruit trees and the plants need water, I water them. I know the animals would be hungry so I feed them. It doesn't matter what day of the week it is,"
says Humberto Toscan Moran, sitting by the porch of his home, La Casa Vieja, believed to be the oldest house in the valley.
Surrounded by old trees and a backyard vineyard planted by the Dominican priests toward the end of the 1800s, Toscan Moran says he took over his mother's house after she died four years ago. He moved back with his wife Colleen to the village where he was born, after living for 19 years in Nebraska. They have four children, now adults. Only one decided to follow them to Mexico.
Now the Morans are among approximately 50 independent wine producers in the area. They sell by request only, in bottles identified solely with a piece of tape that bears the type of wine and the house that produced it.
"I have found myself. I have found my life. I have found my real spirit," says Colleen Toscan, a native of Newport Beach, Calif. Her only complaint is the bad rap by the media about the violence connected to the war on drugs launched four years ago by President Felipe Calderon.
"The media has been portraying Mexico as a bad place to go, a dangerous place to go. Our customers tell us that on the way here [many friends] tell them 'don't go, don't go.' We even have friends and relatives who won't come visit us because they are frightened," said Humberto Toscan, who blames the publicity for the 50 percent drop in sales of the 4,000 bottles of wine they are able to produce a year.
They still get by and have no plans to move back to the U.S. However, they believe that the U.S. government should take a more active role in Mexico's campaign against drug trafficking, since the United States provides much of the demand.
Jose Luis Sierra is a New America Media contributing editor. As part of a Ford Foundation grant, he worked with NewsHour correspondent Saul Gonzalez on a report on the toll the drug war is taking on the country.
09-29-2010, 02:40 AM
Mexico's war on drugs: optimism has turned to depression
Fear as the old troubles remain unsolved while the country reels from the worst wave of violence since the revolution
Jo Tuckman in Mexico City
guardian.co.uk, Friday 3 September 2010 19.04 BST
A bullet-ridden house after a clash between soldiers and gunmen for nearly 13 hours at Panuco, in the state of Veracruz, near the border of Tamaulipas. Photograph: Stringer/mexico/Reuters
Ten years ago Mexico completed a velvet transition to democracy after 71 years of one-party rule with the opposition winning an uncontested victory in presidential elections and the economy growing at 6.6%. There were still many problems, not least the poverty affecting half the population, acute degrees of inequality, lingering guerilla conflicts, and a worrying number of kidnappings. But there was a sense and an expectation that things were going to get better.
Today that optimism has transformed into depression and fear as the old troubles remain unsolved while the country reels from the worst wave of violence since the revolution a century ago.
More than 28,000 people have died in Mexico's drug wars since President Felipe Calderón launched a military-led offensive against the cartels upon taking office in December 2006, and there seems no end in sight.
Explanations for the country's decline differ vastly. Calderón says he had no choice but to go after the cartels with all the force of the state because the negligence and collusion of previous governments had allowed them to take silent control of significant parts of the country. The vast majority of the deaths, he insists, are the result of turf wars between the criminals. Although he admits that his offensive has triggered an intensification of the violence, he argues this is a sign that they are self-destructing under the pressure.
"The conflicts weaken these groups even if they generate enormous nervousness and unease in society," he said in his state of the nation address on Thursday.
"We must battle on."
Others link the mayhem to the demise of semi-authoritarian one-party rule that, however corrupt, was able to set some limits on organised crime.
"In the old days the correlation of forces favoured the state," says drug trafficking historian and sociologist Luis Astorga.
"Today the struggle for hegemony among drug traffickers is taking place without a referee."
Some analysts prefer to emphasise that the main change over the past two decades has been the transformation of Mexican drug traffickers from lackeys of Colombian cocaine cartels to the most powerful criminals in the continent.
Their portfolios have diversified, so that they now smuggle the whole range of illegal drugs destined for the US, supply a growing domestic market and have become key players in criminal activities from people smuggling to kidnapping. This has made controlling whole territories more important, and that requires more firepower.
For yet others, the key trigger was a series of high-profile arrests beginning in 2002 that destroyed the underworld equilibrium. The violence will subside, they say, once a new one is established. Scot Stewart, of the global intelligence company Stratfor, believes there are signs that Sinaloa cartel leader Joaquín El Chapo Guzmán, has formed a potentially winning coalition with smaller cartels that could wipe out his main enemies, the Zetas.
Then there are the many critics of Calderón's offensive within Mexico who argue its reliance on military tactics has made things much worse. The failure to pay as much attention to money laundering, political corruption and poverty has, the argument goes, not only triggered more violence but also encouraged the cartels to penetrate ever deeper into society.
Organised crime expert Edgar Buscaglia, a leading critic of Calderón, calls it the "Afghanistanisation of Mexico". In recent months Calderón has tacitly admitted that his strategy has holes and has begun calling for the creation of a broad consensus on the best route out of the horror. It isn't yet clear whether this new focus can turn Mexico's fortunes around. What isn't in doubt is that many more people will die before we find out.
09-29-2010, 02:45 AM
Our 'war on drugs' has been an abysmal failure. Just look at Mexico
The west's refusal to countenance drug legalisation has fuelled anarchy, profiteering and misery
Thursday 9 September 2010 20.30 BST
It is wrecking the government of Mexico. It is financing the Taliban in Afghanistan. It is throwing 11,000 Britons into jail. It is corrupting democracy throughout Latin America. It is devastating the ghettoes of America and propagating Aids in urban Europe. Its turnover is some £200bn a year, on which it pays not a penny of tax. Thousands round the world die of it and millions are impoverished. It is the biggest man-made blight on the face of the earth.
No, it is not drugs. They are as old as humanity. Drugs will always be a challenge to individual and communal discipline, alongside alcohol and nicotine. The curse is different: the declaration by states that some drugs are illegal and that those who supply and use them are criminals. This is the root of the evil.
By outlawing products – poppy and coca – that are in massive global demand, governments merely hand huge untaxed profits to those outside the law and propagate anarchy. Repressive regimes, such as some Muslim ones, have managed to curb domestic alcohol consumption, but no one has been able to stop the global market in heroin and cocaine. It is too big and too lucrative, rivalling arms and oil on the international monetary exchanges. Forty years of "the war on drugs" have defeated all-comers, except political hypocrites.
Most western governments have turned a blind eye and decided to ride with the menace, since the chief price of their failure is paid by the poor. In Britain Tony Blair, Jack Straw and Gordon Brown felt tackling the drugs economy was not worth antagonising rightwing newspapers. Like most rich westerners they relied on regarding drugs as a menace among the poor but a youthful indiscretion among their own offspring.
The full horror of drug criminality is now coming home to roost far from the streets of New York and London. In countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran, drugs are so endemic that criminalising them merely fuels a colossal corruption. It is rendering futile Nato's Afghan war effort, which requires the retraining of an army and police too addicted either to cure or to sack. Poppies are the chief source of cash for farmers whose hearts and minds Nato needs to win, yet whose poppy crop (ultimately for Nato nations) finances the Taliban. It is crazy.
The worst impact of criminalisation is on Latin America. Here the slow emergence of democratic governments – from Bolivia through Peru and Columbia to Mexico – is being jeopardised by America's "counter-narcotics" diplomacy through the US Drug Enforcement Agency. Rather than try to stem its own voracious appetite for drugs, rich America shifts guilt on to poor supplier countries. Never was the law of economics – demand always evokes supply – so traduced as in Washington's drugs policy. America spends $40bn a year on narcotics policy, imprisoning a staggering 1.5m of its citizens under it.
Cocaine supplies routed through Mexico have made that country the drugs equivalent of a Gulf oil state. An estimated 500,000 people are employed in the trade, all at risk of their lives, with 45,000 soldiers deployed against them. Border provinces are largely in the hands of drug barons and their private armies. In the past four years 28,000 Mexicans have died in drug wars, a slaughter that would outrage the world if caused by any other industry (such as oil). Mexico's experience puts in the shade the gangsterism of America's last failed experiment in prohibition, the prewar alcohol ban.
As a result, it is South American governments and not the sophisticated west that are now pleading for reform. A year ago an Argentinian court gave American and British politicians a lesson in libertarianism by declaring that "adults should be free to make lifestyle decisions without the intervention of the state". Mexico declared drugs users "patients not criminals". Ecuador released 1,500 hapless women imprisoned as drug mules – while the British government locks them for years in Holloway.
Brazil's ex-president Fernando Cardoso and a panel of his former judges announced emphatically that the war on drugs had failed and that "the only way to reduce violence in Mexico, Brazil or anywhere else is to legalise the production, supply and consumption of all drugs". Last month, Mexico's desperate president, Felipe Calderón, acknowledged that his four-year, US-financed war on the drug cartels had all but failed and called on the world for "a fundamental debate on the legalising of drugs".
The difficulty these countries face is the size of the global industry created by the west to meet its demand for drugs. That industry is certain to deploy lethal means against legalisation, as the alcohol barons did against the ending of prohibition. They have been unwittingly sponsored for decades by western leaders, and particularly by the United Nations which, with typical fatuity, declared in 1998 that it would "create a drug-free world" by 2008. All maintained the fiction that demand could be curbed by curbing supply, thus presenting their own consumers as somehow the victims of supplier countries.
The UN's prohibitionist drugs czar, Antonio Maria Costa, comfortably ensconced in Vienna, holds that cannabis is as harmful as heroin and cocaine, and wants to deny individual governments freedom over their drug policies. In eight years in office he has disastrously protected the drug cartels and their profits by refusing to countenance drug legalisation. He even suggested recently that the estimated $352bn generated by drug lords in 2008-09 helped save the world banking system from collapse. It is hard to know whose side he is on.
The evil of drugs will never be stamped out by seizing trivial quantities of drugs and arresting trivial numbers of traders and consumers. That is a mere pretence of action. Drug law enforcement has been the greatest regulatory failure in modern times, far greater in its impact on the world than that of banking. Nor is much likely to come from moves in both Europe and America to legalise cannabis use, sensible though they are. In November Californians are to vote on Proposition 19, to give municipalities freedom to legalise and tax cannabis. One farm in Oakland is forecast to yield $3m a year in taxes, money California's government sorely needs.
This will do nothing to combat the misery now being visited on Mexico. The world has to bring its biggest illegal trade under control. It has to legalise not just consumption but supply. There is evidence that drug markets respond to realistic regulation. In Britain, under Labour, nicotine use fell because tobacco was controlled and taxed, while alcohol use rose because it was decontrolled and made cheaper. European states that have decriminalised and regulated sections of their drug economies, such as the Netherlands, Switzerland and Portugal, have found it has reduced consumption. Regulation works, anarchy does not.
In the case of drugs produced in industrial quantities from distant corners of the globe, only international action has any hope of success. Drug supply must be legalised, taxed and controlled. Other than eliminating war, there can be no greater ambition for international statesmanship. The boon to the peoples of the world would be beyond price.
10-23-2010, 02:30 PM
23 October 2010
Mexico gunmen 'kill 13 young people at party'
Police scoured the scene for clues after the gunmen escaped
At least 13 people have been shot dead at a house party in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez, officials say.
A group of gunmen burst into the party late on Friday and began shooting, police said. At least another 10 people were injured.
Police said the victims were aged 14-20. The attackers escaped with no arrests made, a state prosecutor said.
Ciudad Juarez has been wracked by such shootings as violence among drug gangs has escalated in recent years.
Witnesses said attackers in several vans pulled up to the house near midnight and broke into the house, opening fire.
The attack is similar to one earlier this month in which six people were killed at a party.
It is not clear if the latest killings are related to Mexico's drug war, which has seen the police and army struggle to control the heavily armed cartels.
The Sinaloa and Carillo Fuentes Organisation (also known as the Juarez cartel) gangs are also competing in Ciudad Juarez over lucrative drug smuggling routes into the US, making the city one of the bloodiest frontlines in Mexico's drugs war despite the presence of some 4,500 police and soldiers.
Almost 5,000 people have died in the city in the past two years.
Since President Felipe Calderon ordered the army into the fight against the drug gangs in 2006, nearly 25,000 people have died.
The policy has had some successes arresting drug lords, but that has not led to a decline in the number of killings, or the level of kidnappings, extortion and human trafficking that the gangs also engage in.
for more information and a video report please follow this link (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-11613382)
11-06-2010, 12:10 AM
5 November 2010
Mexico Gulf drug cartel leader Ezequiel Cardenas killed
Cardenas died after a shoot-out lasting several hours
A leader of Mexico's powerful Gulf drug cartel has been shot dead by security forces in a town near the US border, the Mexican military says.
Ezequiel Cardenas Guillen, known as "Tony Tormenta", was killed in the city of Matamoros, across the border from Brownsville in Texas.
He is the brother of former Gulf cartel leader Osiel Cardenas, who was extradited to the US in 2007.
Residents in Matamoros spoke of a shoot-out lasting for several hours.
Three suspected gunmen and two marines were also killed in the gun battle, according to federal security spokesman Alejandro Poire.
Cardenas, 48, had been indicted in the US on drugs charges, and the US Drug Enforcement Administration was offering a reward of up to $5m for his arrest.
He was accused of smuggling tonnes of drugs across the US/Mexico border in the course of the past decade.
Friday's operation involved several hundred Mexican soldiers and marines, and local residents were trapped in shops and schools for extended periods.
Bridges across the international border into Texas were closed briefly, as the military used firearms and grenades to tackle suspected cartel members.
The Mexican police and army are struggling to control armed cartels in a number of areas of the country.
Several groups are trying to control lucrative drug smuggling routes into the US.
More than 28,000 people have died in the drugs war since Mexican President Felipe Calderon ordered the army into the fight in 2006.
The policy has had some successes, but that has not led to a decline in the number of killings, or the level of kidnappings, extortion and human trafficking that the gangs also engage in.
"...and ten seconds later there is another in his place...!"
"The demand $$$$$ ! is to great ! "
11-13-2010, 03:16 PM
Canadians have gone troppo for Mexico
From Saturday's Globe and Mail
The drug violence that has plagued Mexico since the country began its crackdown on cartels six years ago, and unsolved killings like that of Canadian businessman Daniel Dion, undoubtedly harm the country's efforts to attract visitors. What's remarkable – and welcome news – is that while a great deal of attention abroad is focused on the violence, Canadian tourists have a sophisticated understanding of the conditions in the country.
According to Mexican government figures, the total number of Canadian tourist visits to Mexico in 2005 was 675,216. By 2009, the number had nearly doubled to 1,222,739. This year is on pace to shatter last year's record. What's more, in 2006, Canada contributed 8.8 per cent of the tourists visiting Mexico; in 2010, Canada – still the second most important market – represents 14.6 per cent while the United States fell from 62.9 per cent to 61 per cent of the total, no doubt a result of the faltering U.S. economy.
While the Canadian government has issued a travel advisory urging its nationals to “exercise a high degree of caution” when travelling to Mexico, tourists have been undeterred, recognizing that most of the violence is confined to a handful of states, particularly those bordering the United States. Indeed, if you look at the total number of Canadian visitors, on a per capita basis, more Canadians were killed in China and Thailand in 2007, than in Mexico, according to figures provided by Canada's Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade. Many Mexican states have murder rates at or below the rate in the U.S., and The Economist reported recently that, based on official government figures, “Yucatán, where tourists snorkel with whale sharks, sees fewer killings per person than Canada.”
Mexico does not only share a continent with Canada, it is a strong ally and trading partner in NAFTA. Canada has a tremendous investment in Mexico's success, and that success depends not only on Mexico's security, but on the strength of its economy. The country has come through the recession strongly. It provides the most welcoming environment for business in Latin America, as noted in this space Friday. But given the continuing importance of tourism to Mexico, with 8.2 per cent of its GDP coming from tourism (the third highest in the OECD, after Spain and Portugal), and with 6.7 per cent of its work force engaged in it, the level-headedness of the Canadian tourist is welcome.
Ghee imagine that ???
In hospital.. I have thrown another blood clot ...
11-18-2010, 01:51 AM
2 Milestones In Mexico’s Futile Drug War: 10,000 Deaths This Year, And 1st Drug War Refugee Camp
By Mark Perry on November 17, 2010
1.The death toll from Mexico’s drug war passed the 10,000 mark in early November, reaching 10,035 killed since the start of the year. At that pace (1,000 per month), there will be around 12,000 deaths in 2010 from the War on Drugs (including so far this year 52 soldiers, 637 police officers, 276 minors, 326 decapitated victims, almost 800 victims who were tortured before being executed, etc.), which could more accurately be called “The War on Innocent Mexican People Because of Insane Drug Laws.” One thousand drug-related murders per month would be more 33 killings every day, and more than one every hour of each day.
The 12,000 drug-related murders in Mexico this year will bring the drug death toll in the last five years to about 30,000 (see chart above) as a result of drug laws in Mexico and the U.S. In contrast, there have been “only” 4,561 combat-related American deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq combined since 2001.
2. As a Result of the War on Drugs, Mexico Has Its First Displaced-Persons Camp
“When Hurricane Karl struck south-eastern Mexico in September, around 3,500 people left their homes to escape flooding. Last week, it was the north-east of the country that saw a displaced-persons camp sprout up. But the 400 people who are currently holed up in the event hall of the Lions Club, a charity group in the border city of Ciudad Miguel Alemán, were not relocated by act of God. Instead, they have fled from a man-made disaster: the fierce battle between the area’s two warring drug gangs, the Zetas and the Gulf “cartel,” for control of trafficking and dealing in the nearby town of Mier.
The drug gangs have plundered the well; burned the city’s police station, several businesses and dozens of vehicles; hung a dismembered corpse in a public park; and engaged in regular firefights. Schools have closed, and even the local government has abandoned its offices in favour of safer quarters in Ciudad Miguel Alemán, 15km away.
Many smaller municipalities along the border have also become virtual ghost towns this year. But the recent flare-up in Mier happened so quickly that some residents did not have time to arrange for a place to stay. In response, the town’s government-in-exile established a shelter at the Lions Club, and offered the room to those with nowhere to go.”
Termine la guerra de droga vana en México
11-18-2010, 08:19 AM
this is some of the most brutal information I have read,this really spells out the problems of our drug chasing government,also shows just how brutal these smugglers are,I smuggled hash and cannabis in the late 70's and early 80's,there was some scarry situations,but never had the feeling that I would be beheaded by fellow smugglers,just great info,thanks much lequebecfume
11-20-2010, 11:58 AM
'Send in the U.S. military': Calls for help in the Texan war against Mexican drugs cartels
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 11:12 PM on 19th November 2010
They fly helicopter missions, deploy tactical strike teams and gather field intelligence, but the battles they fight aren't in the Middle East, they're in America.
The Texas Department of Public Safety is engaged in an undeclared war with Mexican drug cartels, running militaristic operations day and night.
Texas Governor Rick Perry claims the US military should be mobilised to help defeat Mexico’s violent drug cartels.
War on the border: The Texas Department of Public Safety has a fleet of 16 state-of-the-art helicopters to fight Mexican drug cartels
He spoke out as Texan law enforcement chiefs revealed they are already fighting a virtual war along the border with the increasingly powerful traffickers.
The governor said the U.S. should intervene in the same way that it did in Colombia to bolster the government’s attempts to regain control of the country.
‘They are vicious.They are armed to the teeth. I want to see them defeated – and any means that we can to run these people off our border and to save American lives we need to be engaged in.’
Help: Texas Govenor Rick Perry has called for the U.S. military to step in, in the fight against Mexican drugs cartels
Speaking on MSNBC, he said:
‘I think we have to use every aspect of law enforcement we have, including the military. I think you have the same situation as you had in Colombia.
‘Obviously, Mexico has to approve any type of assistance that we can give them,’ he added.
Even without Washington’s help, the Texas Department of Public Safety says it is already running militaristic operations day and night in the border battle.
'I never thought that we’d be in this paramilitary type of engagement,' Captain Stacy Holland told Fox News of her work with the DPS. 'It's a war on the border.'
The Texas Department of Public Safety has a fleet of 16 state-of-the-art helicopters to fight Mexican drug cartels.
In recent years, the drug cartels have adopted increasingly terrorist-like behaviour.
The gang members are armed with powerful AK-47s, are dressed in camouflage and they recruit ex-prisoners from America to do their dirty work.
They employ spotters to hide by the Rio Grande and alert to U.S. officials patrolling the border.
The cartels have executed more than 10,000 people since January, including American citizens, holidaymakers and innocent bystanders.
Despite fencing and patrols, Mexican drug cartels move an estimated $25 billion from US drug sales back into Mexico in a single year.
According to Texas DPS Director Steven McCraw, Mexican drug cartels move about $25billion from their US drug sales back into Mexico in a single year.
Despite fencing and patrols, Mexican drug cartels move an estimated $25 billion from US drug sales back into Mexico in a single year
But, law enforcement have confiscated just $130million in illegal drug proceeds during the last four years, 'It certainly is a war in a sense that we’re doing what we can to protect Texans and the rest of the nation from clearly a threat that has emerged over the last several years,' said McCraw.
The Texas forces must constantly adapt new strategies, as the cartels try new tricks.
'Recently they’ve adapted their tactics to utilize smaller loads, cross with rafts, stolen vehicles on our side,' McGraw told Fox News.
'To suggest the southwest border is secure is ridiculous,' Holland said.
Termine la guerra de droga vana en México
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