Le Panoptique

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Can We Talk About Mexico? Narco-economies and the U.S.

Publié le 25 janvier, 2009 | Pas de commentaires

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In May of last year, Edgar Eusebio Millán Gómez, Mexico’s national chief of police, who had spearheaded a heroic 17 month effort to battle the power over the Mexican government of drug cartels, was assassinated by no less than nine bullets outside his home. At the time, The Washington Post reported a narcotics expert stating, “This could have a snowball effect, even leading to the risk of ungovernability”. Later that same month, four other federal police were ambushed.

In June, federal police Inspector Igor Labastida was gunned down with his bodyguard. By August, it was reported that over 500 police officers had been killed, “including dozens of commanders and soldiers”, with local police being hit the hardest. By December, the NY Times reported “over 5000 dead” in 2008, in cartel related violence, “Hit men pursuing rivals into intensive care units and emergency rooms. Shootouts in lobbies and corridors.”

What kind of money are we talking about here, that can take over the infrastructure of an entire country’s law enforcement, leaving those left on the force to cooperate or be murdered? “The U.S. government estimates that the cartels smuggle $15 billion to $20 billion in drug money across the border each year”, and if that is the official number, it’s probably safe to assume it’s the low-end figure. How many billions are produced each year by the narcotics trade through Mexico is probably incalculable, seemingly limitless.

To describe the misery, the fear, the terror, these cartels inflict on a daily basis, as oppressive as the Taliban in their own country, is beyond my ability. What I want to know is how, if the U.S. DEA is giving Mexico hundreds of millions of dollars (Operation Clean House), and making U.S. troops available to them – not thousands of miles away in Iraq, but on their very borders – how violence continues to escalate exponentially with more police and civilian deaths being racked up almost daily. « We’ve been working with the Mexican government for decades at the DEA, » said Garrison Courtney, spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration. « Obviously, we ensure that the individuals we work with are vetted. »

Obviously. But the fact remains that “loss of the drug business would shrink Mexico’s economy by 63 percent.” As in Afghanistan, narcotics fuel the Taliban’s ability to buy weapons and intimidate police and civilians, all the time collecting billions in U.S. counter-narcotics aid, as does Columbia, another narco-economy close to the financial interests of the United States.

The War on Drugs and the War on Terror: so many years, so many lives, so many billions of dollars later, why are things only getting worse? I can only conclude that somewhere, on the top levels of North and South American government, it is considered expedient and necessary to allow the narcotics trade to continue, or enough people are being paid off that it is impossible to contain – or both. When you follow the money involved – and consider the considerable cruelty required to allow the horror caused by unchecked drug-violence to continue – there can be no other plausible reasons.

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