Feature photo Esparta Palma
On September 15, Mexico will be celebrating its 200th Independence anniversary. I am wondering if the drug cartels will bring Mexico some flowers and a box of chocolates; will buy it a diamond necklace or just bring more deaths for the country to cry over. I am afraid it might be the latter.
The latest gift from the drug cartels came in the form of mass murder. On August 26th, 72 immigrants, men and women, were found inside an abandoned barn: feet and hands bound; blind folded; piled up like cattle and with a bullet to their heads. These men and women from El Salvador, Honduras, Ecuador and Brazil left their countries in hopes to find a better future in the United States but they only made it to the border. Apparently, “los zetas” (the armed group of the Gulf Cartel) stopped the bus in which the immigrants traveled and since they could not make any money out of them, they shot them. Just like that. No mercy.
Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. The level of violence Mexico is experiencing since President Felipe Calderon declared his “Guerra contra las drogas” (war on drugs), is unprecedented. Just two days after the incident involving the 72 immigrants, the prosecutor and detective assigned to the case disappeared. Their bodies were found last week.
It is a complex issue and therefore there are no easy answers. According to the CIA, the United States is the largest consumer of Mexican cocaine, heroin and marijuana. As long as there is a market for these and other drugs, the cartels will continue producing them. Another issue is the one of the weapons flooding into the country from the United States. According to a recent study released by the Woodrow Wilson Institute- University of San Diego, and reported by the Washington Post, more than 80,000 arms have been confiscated by the Mexican government since 2006. At least 77% of those weapons can be traced back to the United States. When the drug lords are better armed than the Mexican army and police forces, the country is in trouble. And then, there is corruption. In a country where it is way more profitable to be a small time drug dealer than a police officer, and where soldiers have to were ski masks because of fear of retaliation, there is a lot of room for selling one’s soul.
On a more personal note, ever since I moved to the United States five years ago, I have been making plans for a Mexico comeback. Not this time, at least not a permanent one, I will go visit but nothing more. I am now too concerned about the state of affairs in Mexico to think about returning permanently. I do not know whether President’s Calderon war on drugs was a simply a political move or a true desire to rid the country of drug cartels. What we do know, is that he messed with a system that, while undoubtedly rotten, worked. The narcos were able to do their business in peace, leaving the population alone. Was this ideal? Not really. It is sadly telling when one wishes to return to the status quo, a state where the cartels and their lords were not disturbed, but were 28,000 people dead in the last 4 years the better alternative? I certainly hope not.