Have you ever wondered why the consequences of the “war against drugs” are so different for Mexico than they are for the United States?
The end result of such war reveals a brutal contrast between both countries, which vey few have pointed out.
Mexico is immersed in a situation where intense firefights are common in many parts of its territory, between government forces and organized crime groups, between federal forces and between rivaling factions that have left more than 28,000 deaths since December of 2006 (one death per hour) that has hit a blow to its image around the world, fills its inhabitants with fear and take away any desire for tourist to visit.
On the other hand, the American cities, including the border towns, are living a reduction without precedent in their levels of violence and crime. The violence related to drug trafficking are considered isolated and of local importance and don’t reach the national level as in Mexico.
This brings up several questions. Why are Mexican towns in general more violent and insecure, according to hard facts and people’s perceptions, while the American cities are safer as time passes? Why does the war on drugs and organized crime only have consequences on the Mexican side?
Isn’t the drug traffic problem the same for the United States as it is for Mexico? Furthermore, isn’t the United States a much larger consumer of drugs than Mexico is? Is it not an obvious and known truth that the drugs smuggled through Mexico have, for the most part, the American market as their final destination, being the largest drug market in the world? Why is there such a stark difference in the levels of violence? What explains this difference?
The United States has, for much longer time than Mexico, declared a war on drugs, yet the end result in terms of organized crime is very different.
This article will try to explain these differences.
Juarez – El Paso
Ciudad Juarez has been named the city with the most violent deaths out of a declared war zone. In contrast, El Paso Tx, on the other side of the river, has been named the second most safest city in the United States. Yes, it is almost incredible.
Elpasoans are worried about the violence affecting their sister city, but at the same time are very pround to live in one of the safest towns in the US.
Criminologists, reporters and the very people of El Paso say that part of the reason for this is that El Paso is populated in most part by Mexican immigrants (3/4 of the town is Hispanic in origin) It seems that the migrants keep a very low profile and are very careful not to break the law due to their legal status.
This phenomenon is repeated in other border communities in the US, like San Diego, Laredo and Brownsville. Contrary to what anti-immigration conservatives think, illegal aliens and migrants in general are not a source of crime and violence, destroying the rhetoric that points to illegal immigrations as the source of every problem in the US, including violence.
Ever since the violence generated by organized crime filled the streets in December 2006, in what is now called a war against drugs and criminals, rivers of ink have flowed in newspapers mentioning this subject. In Mexico most of the analysis of violence from the drug trade has focused on the problem from an insider’s perspective. There are very few studies made or voices heard that try to explain the drug problem as a 2 country issue and few see the issue on a global scale.
The American version
On the other side the situation is not tha different, people in general in the US have less information that we do locally, news of the violence reach the US without much context and contribute to thinking that Mexico is at war throughout its territory.
However there is an important sector in American society (analysts and reporters) that speaks and writes about the issue from the point of view that caters to their interests and conveniences. What happens in Mexico worries Americans above all, because of the repercussions that such violence may have in their country.
Recently the Woodrow Wilson center, a political think tank, published in the Washington Post an article that tries to explain what is happening in Mexico.
The institute’s director, Andrew Seele, explain several aspects, among those the fact that the violence has not spilled over the border and says “ The Mexican groups that operate in the United States try not to draw attention to themselves because they are afraid of an authority with the capacity to go after them. It is not perfect, but there is an institutional structure that complicates the operations of organized crime, a situation that Mexico and its society aspire to have.
He basically says that American institutions are of enough concern to the organized crime groups that they do not act in a violent fashion in the US as they do in Mexico.
But what is really happening? Lets try and figure out how the American authorities bring this concern to these crime groups.
If it is true that the American institutions are strong enough to face these drugs cartels, then one would think that the drugs that do make it into the US would find a lot ob obstacles to advance beyond the border and points of entry. You would think that the drug market would be very controlled in the US, since it would be extremely difficult to transport drugs from one place to the other due to the presence of these American institutions. Fact is, this is not so.
Just as drugs flow freely in the blood of addicts, so do the well hidden drug shipments flow, without obstacle, on the interstate highway system throughout the US, a country fully addicted to every illicit or licit mind altering substance known to man, that allows them to forget their boredom and lifes’ troubles to millions of people, sometimes at a very high price. And they need somebody to provide them.
Drug “Free Market”, vs “drug free” market.
Once the drugs enter the US via many illegal methods (including bribery) smugglers find it very easy to transport the grugs to each and every corner of the country. This huge market, from every burg to every burb, there is no place in the US where dugs are hard to find. That is a fact.
Who is battling these distribution channels in the US? The answer is nobody, not now, not ever. Why? American politics are very practical and efficient in the way it looks out solely for its own interests.
In spite of all the rhetoric about the dangers of illegal drugs, Americans will give much more importance to the free flow of goods and commerce, way above stopping the illegal drug trade.
For this reason, smugglers do not even have to be armed, as long as they hide their cargo well and are careful to not break obvious laws (fraffic laws) it is very seldom that a conflict with authority surges, much less a direct confrontation (as it happens in Mexico).
If the American authorities started placing roadblocks to randomly search semi trucks, if the US army were to patrol the streets stopping anybody that looks like a smuggler, we would have the same situation as the one currently happening in Mexico, there would be violent clashes with the authorities. This violence would stifle commerce, scare its citizens and depress all economic activities and people’s morale.
All those things that are happening in Mexico, are precisely the things that the US evades at all cost. They, as a nation protect above all, freedom, even if it is only the freedom to have a free commerce. The term “let it be, let it pass” has more value than the so called war on drugs.
The real war
By this we do not say the the US stands by and does nothing to fight drug smuggling and drug use. TO BE CONTINUED…
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