Feature

How they see us: Suddenly noticing Mexico’s drug war

With the deaths of two Americans killed by drug dealers in Juárez, the U.S. finally feels the weight of Mexico's drug war, a war fueled primarily by U.S. weapons and the U.S. market for drugs.

President Obama says he was “deeply saddened and outraged” by the recent murders of innocent people by drug dealers in the border city of Juárez, said Mexico City’s La Jornada in an editorial. Too bad it took the deaths of two Americans, one of them an employee at the U.S. consulate, to elicit that kind of sympathy. We can’t help but note “the lack of similar words addressed to the countless innocent Mexicans slaughtered in the course of this confused and ugly ‘war.’” American concern would be most appropriate, since the U.S. is not only the primary market for the cocaine and marijuana over which the drug lords are fighting and killing, but also “the leading provider of high-powered weapons to criminal groups.” The only thing the U.S. hasn’t contributed to Mexico’s devastating drug war—at least, until now—is victims.

That’s because the drug trade on the U.S. side of the border is allowed to proceed largely unimpeded, said Ricardo Aleman in Mexico City’s El Universal. “The system for smuggling, distributing, and selling every kind of drug—throughout the entire land mass of the United States—is even more effective than the distribution and sale of hamburgers and cola.” Somehow, 15 million people are supplied with illicit drugs, and hardly anyone is arrested or killed. What makes the largest drug market in the world possible? The answer is chilling: “High levels of corruption prevalent at every strata of the U.S. government.”

There’s a much simpler explanation, said Javier González Garza in Monterrey’s Reforma. The U.S. government has chosen “to combat violence, not drug trafficking.” Drug dealers in the U.S. know they can largely get away with selling drugs, as long as they don’t kill one another in American cities and towns. It’s a similar story in Colombia. Over the past decade, Colombia managed to sharply reduce violent crime, but during that period, the volume of cocaine production went way up. Mexico’s mistake is that we are trying to stop drug trafficking, when what we should be doing is stopping drug violence.

Either way, we can’t do it alone, said Juan Pardinas in Monterrey’s El Norte. The drug trade is a multinational problem and needs a multinational solution. So why don’t we join NATO? As a democratic country that lies mostly north of the Tropic of Cancer, Mexico is eligible to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. As a NATO member, we could “invoke an emergency situation and receive help from the multinational organization.” The threat doesn’t have to be an attack from outside our borders: NATO rules say members can request help against attacks by terrorist groups or even organized crime. When the idea of joining NATO was first floated in academic circles here last year, it seemed crazy. Now, with hundreds of Mexicans losing their lives in the drug war every month, bringing in international troops seems like “an urgent necessity.”

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