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So far from God; so close to the United States

by Anastasia (writer), London, January 17, 2013

Credit: Wikimedia commons
South of the Border, down Mexico way

The Mexican war against drugs is lost. Who has the courage to face reality?

Are you American? Then you must be concerned about war. Oh, not some distant conflict, not Afghanistan. No, the war you must be concerned about – surely you must? – is the war on your southern border. Yes, it’s the war in Mexico, that unacknowledged Vietnam.

The war on terror (what a disaster that has been) is bad enough; the war on drugs has been even worse. It’s the sheer savagery of the Mexican conflict that disgusts me, the mutilations and the murderous sadism. Do you know how many people have died in the drugs war? The official estimate to date is 50,000 but those who know about this sort of thing believe that the true total is twice as many. The victims are not soldiers by and large. As Mary Wakefield writing in the Spectator said, they are young boys, babies, mothers and husbands. Severed heads and decapitated bodies are a regular sight on the streets. That's the reality of modern Mexico

Felipe Calderon, Mexico’s drug-busting former president, was a man with a mission. He came to office with a single aim in mind, a crusade, if you like. He would crack down on the big drug barons in order, he said, ‘to restore moral order.’ But the drug cartels are a bit like the Lernaean Hydra of Greek mythology: cut off one head and two more appear. Kingpins were killed, yes, but their organisations simply fragmented. More and more gangs has meant more and more crime. Murder, extortion, rape and kidnapping are now pretty much part of the daily scene.

The problem, as I’ve written before, isn’t really an internal one. The anti-drugs crusade was predetermined failure simply because there are factors beyond the control of the Mexican authorities. The biggest factor of all is the insatiable demand for the produce of the cartels north of the Rio Grande. The drug war in Mexico, in other words, is fuelled by American consumers.

So much money has been wasted and so many lives have been lost in attempting, Canute-style, to hold back an inexorable tide. The American government, aware of the problem, attempted to help Mexico build a dyke. Billions was spent on supporting Calderon’s crazy crusade. American money was spent, for example, on Los Zetas.

Who are they, you may wonder? They are Mexico’s elite Special Forces squad, trained by American and Israeli specialists in such talents as intimidation, ambushing and marksmanship, all as part of the struggle against the drug lords. There is only one problem. Some years ago the organisation set up in business for itself. In what, exactly? Why, in drugs. Nobody does it better than Los Zetas, and nobody butchers children with such professionalism and aplomb. The more your tax dollars are spent on training Special Forces, the more Los Zetas benefit from fresh recruits.

There is an added irony here. Several States of the Union, Colorado and Washington leading the way, are anxious to legalise cannabis. There is Mexico, vainly struggling to contain a problem while its northern neighbour seems to be giving a green light to the cartels, over 40% of whose business is selling cannabis to gringos. When one thinks things can’t get any crazier, why, they do.

Organised crime is now the single most serious problem facing Mexico. Americans know, or should know, all about organised crime and Prohibition. Just consider your own history, consider what a leg up the gangsters were given in that brief decade last century when alcohol was banned.

Mexico has had Prohibition for decade after decade, with the results I have touched on above. The monster has grown to unimaginable proportions. Only legalisation will cut it down to size. But who has the courage to take that bold step? Alas, poor Mexico: so far from God, so close to the United States.



About the Writer

Anastasia is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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8 comments on So far from God; so close to the United States

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By Randy Mitchell on January 18, 2013 at 01:47 pm

Living in Dallas, a mere few hours from the border, I read all the time about the cartels and how much their drugs are affecting our nation. It will only lessen when politicians finally recognize the serverity of the problem and commit hardened resources to defeat the ongoing battle. Legalization of the drugs is nothing more than a left-winged liberal attempt to collect votes. Drug use is getting much worse, even in some of our best schools. Mexico's government simply cannot do this on their own, and in places like Columbia, the money from drugs can buy just about anyone.

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By Anastasia on January 20, 2013 at 05:45 pm

Randy, I assure you the one thing I am not is a left wing liberal! Huge amounts of money, your money, have been devoted to solving this problem by force. All that has happened is that it gets worse and worse. The thing is the illegal trade in drugs, like the illegal trade in alcohol during Prohibition, carries the prospect of highly lucrative returns. Yes, there are risks but this does nothing to reduce the fact that the rewards are pure profit. For poor countries like Colombia and Mexico the attractions are overwhelming. As I say, it’s time to face reality before reality faces you.

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By Randy Mitchell on January 22, 2013 at 02:48 pm

Anastasia, one thing I do know is that you're not one on the left side of things, as is evidenced by the great articles you continually write.

To legalize drugs would be to give up, throw our hands in the air, and allow the devastating effects of dependency to further destroy our society. Money is power, and wherever easy money is made there will always be ones who are standing in line to take advantage. If those in Washington, would ever commit the resources, I mean "Real" resources to defeating the problem along our border, it would be about as easy as defeating a country like Iraq, or some other weak military. But, unfortunately, the money is irresistable to so many, including corrupt politicians.

Alcohol is one thing, but drugs like marijuana, cocaine, oxycotton, and others instigate rapid, and severe dependency on the human body. And its very difficult to shake the addiction once afflicted. There are enough problems with drunken drivers out there, but, I could never sign off on having people both drunk and stoned at the same time. Then, where does it end?

As the dependency on illegal drugs spreads, so does further economic collapse among the mainstream, a greater dependency on government handouts for those claiming to be unable to work, and a further moral decline among society.

Thanks for the discussion.

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By Anastasia on January 22, 2013 at 08:41 pm

Thanks, Randy. I do understand and appreciate what you are saying. In an ideal world this problem would not exist. But we do not live in an ideal world. I have no figures to hand but I’m guessing that more people are harmed by legal drugs like tobacco and alcohol than by illegal substances.

I’m not at all sure that “real” resources would make any difference. “Real” resources were allocated in Mexico during Calderon’s presidency, with the results I’ve indicated. Legalisation at least offers a way of directing, taxing and controlling; above all it offers a way of undercutting the gangsters. I don’t see how things can go on as they are.

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By melanie jean juneau on January 22, 2013 at 08:44 pm

I do not have anything intelligent to say- simply brilliant

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By Anastasia on January 24, 2013 at 05:42 pm

You are very kind, Melanie. :-)

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By John Nelson on January 29, 2013 at 06:02 pm

I agree the War on Drugs in the U.S. has been a farce. But the “fiscal conservatives” in Washington will never suspend that dollar drain. They’ll continue to spend, spend, spend. The same is true with the massively inflated defense budget. That money is earmarked to their corporate sponsors.

I support the legalization of marijuana in two of our states. I’d like to see it regulated and taxed like alcohol and produced locally for sale and distribution. MJ is a pretty mild drug with little to no physical addictions (unlike alcohol and tobacco.) In the U.S. the growing drug problem is with prescription drug addiction and those drugs don’t come from the Mexican cartel; they come from the major pharmaceutical companies.

I don’t think the U.S. legalizing MJ will curtail the drug cartel or black market economy in Mexico. Mexico is a wealthy nation with many natural resources. However, Mexico’s inequitable distribution of wealth is among the highest in the world. Eighty-five percent of the national wealth is concentrated in a few families, corporate magnates, and politicians. The country is plagued with monopolies both public and private that ensure wealth remains in the hands of a few. Over 60% of the nation lives in poverty.

The Gini Index is an economic formula that measures the degree of income inequality in a nation.) The lower the score the better. Mexico’s score is 49 (pathetic). The U.S. is no beacon of equity at 41. The UK is 36, Canada 32, Japan 25 and Denmark is a laudable 24. Mexico should look toward Denmark if they ever reform their economic inequalities (The U.S. should too!) Though it will probably take a bloody revolution since the ruling class never reform without death and destruction.

As long as Mexico is ruled by a cabal and the GINI Index is in the proverbial toilet you will have a black market economy of drug cartels and other social dysfunction. As long as Mexico maintains terrible economic inequality they’ll have cartels and a robust (and violent) black market economy. In the poorest places in the U.S. the illegal drug market thrives too. We both share a poor GINI Index.

Maybe Denmark and Japan can help the U.S. and Mexico get our Gini Index down to the low 30’s and I bet the dead bodies will stop stacking up in Juarez or Detroit.

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By Anastasia on January 31, 2013 at 05:59 pm

Thanks, John. You are quite right: the partial legalisation will do nothing to curb the illegal drugs trade in Mexico – it will just make existing policy all the more absurd. At the moment the prizes in pure profit are simply too great, the risks notwithstanding. Only a comprehensive approach involving Mexico the US and, I would suggest, several other nations involved in the trade from South America up, will come anywhere near tackling the problem. It simply cannot be done in isolation. More guns, more armaments, more controls simply means more deaths.

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