Viva Mexico?

14 Sep

Francesca Vaghi

The Mexican drug war is in full force since President Felipe Calderon declared it in 2006

Many people who know me also know that I am against drugs. However, I couldn’t care less about the moral, ethical or health implications related to drug consumption. What bothers me is how little we know about the processes behind the growing and distributing of weed, just as we ignore the dubious process behind the making of the Tesco ham sandwich we buy on a regular basis.

I call Mexico “my country” because it has adopted me since the age of four. I have learnt from it, and my world view has been largely shaped by the experiences I have had there. Seeing how the past five years of intense drug cartel activity have affected all that I love about Mexico, I cannot but have vehement feelings about the issue of drugs.

A police officer walks over packages of cocaine Buenaventura, Colombia, where the police had seized 3.5 tonnes of drugs bound for Mexico

It is not easy to describe a situation like Mexico’s; the North of the country is practically inhabitable now, and the entire region is in the hands of criminal organizations. Since the governmental intervention against drug trafficking began four years ago, over thirty thousand people have died. In Ciudad Juarez, the country’s most dangerous city, twenty cartel-related murders happen each day, including gang members, civilians, students and children. To the foreign eye, it is unthinkable that such events can take place on a daily basis; but Mexicans are now surprised when they don’t hear about such events on the news. What I am trying to convey, however, is that drug wars have not only caused an outburst of extreme violence, but they have embedded themselves in so many aspects of society that it is quite impossible now to deny them as the cause of the many Mexican social issues.

Poverty, weapon and human trafficking, piracy, obstruction of justice, human rights violations: these are but a handful of the consequences that the drug wars have had so far on Mexican society. A Mexican journalist, Juan Villoro, found that, due to lack of security in many parts of the country, the voting activity in Mexico has decreased by 15%. Politicians are corrupt, and ever since Felipe Calderón was appointed president in 2006, social opinion has been so divided that elections could not be more reluctantly complied with. The official unemployment rate (as reported in August 2010) is 5.5%, although it should be much higher than this; sadly, the unemployed have many illegal alternatives to make money. Piracy, for instance, is a critical issue in Mexico. Worse still are weapon and women trafficking, drug dealing and the ever increasing kidnappings.

Bodies awaiting autopsy in the Mexican border city of Ciudad Juarez

It saddens me that such a beautiful country, with an incredible potential and unbelievably benevolent and motivated people has to be ruined like this. What hope is there for the tourism sector in front of such a crisis? Will there be any heritage left after it ends, if it ever does?

There is yet much more to say about the problem of drugs in Mexico but this would ask for a much longer article. I do want to say, however, that many people in Europe do not appreciate what a luxury it is to be able to feel safe most, if not all, of the time, not to be scared of policemen that might in fact be criminals in disguise, or just be able to go to work every morning and not hear a single person has died in some gruesome way. There is, of course, a massive debate on how, if ever, this problem will be solved, and here we drag in the issues of bad foreign policy and poor external awareness of the matter. Whatever the outcome, I do believe that it should start from making such small sacrifices as not buying drugs. Then again, I am beginning to feel like a vegetarian who’s being told that, no matter how much I can boycott meat, there will be thousands of other people consuming it. We’ll see who loses their cause first…

The Army incinerates 14 tonnes of drugs in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico


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