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Monday, February 14, 2011

Drug Killings in Mexico

When I was a kid there was a line that went
If you can remain calm while those about you run around in panic, you just don't know how serious the situation is.
And so it is with Mexico.

Here is a recent report on the situation, "Drug Violence in Mexico:  Data and Analysis Through 2010".  Twenty-eight pages in PDF format.

The authors are Viridian Rios, of Harvard (she drew the short straw) and Dr David A. Shirk, of the University of San Diego de Acalá.  In his cover letter to colleagues Dr Shirk notes:
According to Mexican government data, more than 34,550 killings were officially linked to organized crime during the administration of President Felipe Calderon (2006-12).  Based on several years of monitoring drug violence in Mexico, the 15,000 organized crime killings that occurred in 2010 set a new record as well as an increase of nearly 60% from the previous year.

Our report underscores the dramatic increase and geographic concentration of violence, with 84% of all homicides from organized crime in 2010 occurring in just four of Mexico’s 32 states (Chihuahua, Sinaloa, Guerrero and Baja California), but also the spreading and intensification of this violence due to the emergence of three splinter organizations—the Beltran Leyva, La Familia Michoacana, and Zeta drug trafficking organizations—that have broken with the major cartels over the last two years.
I find the number 15,000 to be impressive.

In the opening pages of one of his books on Viet-nam, author and reporter Bernard Fall talks about starting to write the book by sitting in a sidewalk cafe in Saigon for several weeks, reading the newspapers, to include the obituaries.  Finally he goes to meet a high ranking member of the Viet-namese Government security services, where he suggests that South Viet-nam has an ongoing insurgency, which the Government official denies.  Mr Fall produces a map he has created based upon the deaths of mayors, doctors, nurses and teachers, out in the villages and small towns.  At this point the Government official reaches back and pulls out a very similar map and says, yes, in fact we do have an insurgency ongoing.

While the Mexican Government took exception to a US Department of Defense official recently referring to what is happening in Mexico as an "insurgency" there is a certain problem in Mexico and as a minimum it reminds one of Prohibition in the US.

This is not a problem that can be solved in Washington or by the US Department of State, Department of Homeland Security or Department of Defense, alone or in combination.  It is a problem for Mexico to solve and one wherein we should be supporting that Government.  The Mythical Marginal Dollar should be going not to Afghanistan, but to Mexico.

There are no quick fixes.  Several people have recently noted that legalization of drugs is not going to make this problem go away.  Others have noted that this problem is spilling across the border into the United States.  Then it becomes a problem for State Governments, assisted by Big Sis, if she can figure out how to do that.

Regards  —  Cliff

  The Secretary of Homeland Security, the Honorable Janet Napolitano.

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