Filed under: Foreign Policy, Latin America, National Security, Terrorism | Tags: A Growing Problem, Conflagration on the Border, Mexico's Drug Wars
There is a war going on next door in Mexico, and our government seems much more concerned about Arizona’s efforts to control illegal immigration. In recent weeks mayors in five Mexican cities have been murdered by the drug cartels, eleven in 2010. On the Arizona border, for the first time in history, control of some of our own territory is being ceded to the cartels.
The Los Angeles Police Department warns that five cartels have set up logistics operations in their city.
The cartels in Mexico are more than a police problem. President Felipe Calderon warns that everything about the cartels’ actions says that they mean to take over. In Juarez, across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, the death toll since 2006 is over 6,000. The most recent outrage was the murder of a 6-year-old little girl. She was murdered as she slept in her bed on Monday, shot point-blank in the face by a cartel gunman.
Over 230,000 residents of Juarez, a city of 1.3 million have fled in fear of their lives, 54% have gone to El Paso. The Los Angeles Times has an interactive map delineating the drug related deaths from January 1, 2007 to June 5, 2009. In Chihuahua — 2,481 deaths; in Baja California —890; in Sonora — 304; Sinaloa — 1,240 deaths; Durango — 669; Coahuila — 174; Nuevo Leon —213; and Tamaulipas —221 deaths. These are just the states close to our Southern border, and up to June of last year. The Times has stories up-to-date listed as well.
Washington DC is much more concerned that Arizona’s efforts to get federal attention to their border might offend some illegal immigrants, and discourage the votes of illegal immigrants, than it is for the safety of American citizens in their own country. There are roads in Southern Arizona that border patrol agents keep drivers from using after dark. The border fence is ignored, and Obama’s increased border patrol agents have reportedly been assigned to desk jobs.
We help out with about $400 million to Mexico a year, way less than the estimated $8 to $25 billion that Latin American cartels make in U.S. drug profits each year. This month, Investors says, the State Department withheld $26 million in U.S. war aid to Mexico based on State’s assessment of Mexico’s “human rights progress.” Which sounds like our State Department.
Nobody promised that there wouldn’t be hard problems popping up all over. That’s one reason why presidents try to appear strong, decisive and in control. Soviet expansionism slowed drastically after President Ronald Reagan broke the air-traffic controllers’ strike by firing the whole bunch of them. The Soviets decided that he was definitely not a pansy, and reduced their efforts.
Mexico’s war sounds like a conflagration that could become our problem as well as theirs. Fires, unattended, have a tendency to grow.
ADDENDUM: Another mayor in Mexico has been killed, this one in Michoacan— in a small town in western Mexico, and one of the main sources for immigration to the United States. He was stoned to death. This was the third attack on a public official in less than a week. The bodies of Gustavo Sanchez, mayor of Tancitaro in Michoacan state and an aide were found.
On Friday the mayor-elect in northern Chihuahua state was found shot in the head and chest by suspected drug hitmen, leaving him in critical condition.
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