IN MEXICO, THE BODY COUNT CONTINUES TO MOUNT
By Allan Wall
May 27, 2008
Mexico, the ongoing battles between the drug cartels and between drug
cartels and the government go on and on, and the body count mounts.
On May 23rd, 2008, Mexican Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora announced that, in calendar year 2008 thus far, killings linked to organized crime and narcotrafficking have increased 47% over those in 2007.
According to Medina Mora’s figures, as of May 24th, there had been 1,378 such murders. At this time last year the figure was 940.
Since it’s only May, that means that 2008 is well on the way to surpass the 2007 total of 2,500 killings.
The total body count (to date) under the Calderon Administration is 4,152 killings, 450 of whom were policemen, prosecutors or Mexican military personnel.
(As a point of comparison, the U.S. has lost 4,081 military personnel in Iraq since 2003).
Another way to look at the death toll is as a daily average. On May 22nd (the day before Medina Mora’s higher figures were announced), Mexico’s Jornada newspaper published its calculation of an average of 7.6 killings per day since Calderon took office, although it added that in the week previous the average was 15 such killings per day.
killings in Mexico have increased in some regions and decreased in others.
According to Medina Mora, there has been a “significant increase”
of killings in the northern states of Chihuahua, Baja California and
Sinaloa. Meanwhile, the killings have decreased in Nuevo Leon, Guerrero
and Mexico City.
Ciudad Juarez (across the border from El Paso, Texas) has been the scene of heavy fighting, both between cartels, and between security forces and narco gunmen. In Ciudad Juarez alone, there have been about 400 such killings thus far in 2008.
In a recent grisly example near the city of Durango, 6 severed heads were recently discovered alongside the highway. But they weren’t just flung down on the roadside. No, they were each placed carefully within a cooler, 4 of them in an abandoned vehicle, accompanied by threatening messages to rivals.
It’s probably no coincidence that the heads were placed on the same road where 8 gunmen were slain in a shootout several days earlier.
Reports also indicate re-alignment and re-organization among the drug cartels, who live in a grim, dog-eat-dog world of shifting dependencies and alliances.
The U.S. government is preparing the aid the Mexican government in its fight against the cartels, but this aid too is controversial.
President Bush wanted to give Mexico $500 million dollars worth of aid, but neither congressional chamber was willing to give that much. The House approved $400 million dollars and the Senate $350 million. The difference is to be worked out in House-Senate conference during the next few weeks.
Both congressional bills include making part of the funding contingent upon human rights certification. This doesn’t set well with Mexican politicians who have charged the U.S. with meddling. However, since this is an aid program, in which they’re getting the aid for free, Mexico will likely take whatever it is given.
Mexican Attorney General Medina Mora has long complained about the smuggling of U.S. weapons from the U.S. to Mexico. Cartels arrange for the purchase of weapons in the U.S. and move them into Mexico. This problem is exacerbated by corruption within the Mexican Customs department and the general lawless atmosphere that exists on the U.S.-Mexican border.
Tighter border security would definitely help. However, the Mexican government complains when the U.S. tightens up the border! If you have a porous border, it won’t be porous just for border crossers. It’s also porous for drugs and weapons! Our own leaders ought to point that out to Mexican leaders.
Of course, wherever there’s a market, there are suppliers. As long as U.S. drug users continue to purchase drugs, there will be a people willing to sell to them. That makes U.S. drug addicts themselves the principal financiers of the Mexican drug cartels.
It’s no accident that some Mexican border towns are so violent . Cartels are fighting over the privilege of moving the drugs into U.S. territory.
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Combine Mexican corruption and collaboration with drug cartels, and a massive American market for their products, and you’ve got a big problem. The cartels are rich, well-connected, and brazen, and when one narco-chief is killed or imprisoned, another is waiting in the wings to take his place.
Famed Mexico watcher George W. Grayson, professor at the College of William and Mary, has gone so far as to say that “It’s impossible to win the drug war while the demand exists in the United States and Europe.”
Meanwhile in Mexico, the body count continues to mount …