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Mexico - Drug War

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A Central American migrant, carrying a cross and a sign against violence, participates in a Via Crucis in Tapachula, Mexico, Wed
A Central American migrant, carrying a cross and a sign against violence, participates in a Via Crucis in Tapachula, Mexico, Wednesday, April. 20, 2011. Mexican authorities say they have rescued 68 people, including 12 Central American migrants, allegedly kidnapped by a drug cartel in northern Mexico.

Mexico Drug War

Mexico Drug War

Mexico is in trouble. The once proud and resourceful nation is waging a war which seems slowly to be tearing the country apart. Violence and crime are out of control; the drug cartels and the mafia in the north have turned Mexico into a country paralyzed with fear.


The war on drugs was declared by President Felipe Calderòn five years ago, and it has not been a success. His tactics have been to deploy military forces against the violent drugs gangs, but this has only escalated the violence. Cities along the American border, like Ciudad Juàrez, Monterrey and Tijuana, have become war zones where abductions and killings are a part of everyday life. Only last year (2010), more than 15,000 people were killed. But it is not primarily soldiers who are killed; most of the casualties are either members of competing drug gangs or civilians. Another mass grave was recently discovered along the border - with 176 bodies.

Desperate Measures

The war on drugs can in many ways be compared to the war on terror. In both wars the enemy is powerful and unpredictable, and the suffering parties are the civilized community and the belief in a normal balance of power. The President has now signed a proposal to the Mexican Senate which will give the military extended authority. This will, by many, be seen as a blow against democratic principles, since the generals will then be able to overrule the elected politicians in certain issues. However, desperate times require desperate measures, and Caldèron needs to prove some efficiency in this seemingly unwinnable war. But the credibility of his efforts is undermined by the fact that 2 out of 3 government officials are corrupt - a sad symptom of the whole situation.

The Violence

Drive-by shootings, executions in open daylight, kidnappings where the hostage is killed after the kidnappers have been paid – these may seem like elements from a violent Tarantino movie. But it is daily life in Ciudad Juàrez. It has become an outlaw city where the killings are becoming more and more brutal and theatrical, including deadly torture and public hangings. More than 90 per cent of the victims are “dirty” – meaning people involved in the drug traffic.


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Sist oppdatert 04.03.2017
Tekst: Jan-Louis Nagel (CC BY-SA)