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Mexico's War on Drugs is a Sham

La Opinin, News Report, Gardenia Mendoza, Translated by Elena Shore Posted: Jun 03, 2008

Mexico's strategy against organized crime is failing because it has not attacked the larger financial or political structure behind drug trafficking, writes La Opinin's Mexico City correspondent.

MEXICO CITY When he came to office in December 2006, President Felipe Caldern implemented a strategy against organized crime. But the plan is failing because it has focused solely on the seizure of drugs, weapons and traffickers without attacking the larger financial or political structure.

National security and organized crime experts came to this conclusion to explain the escalation of violence, including beheadings, torture, kidnappings and mass killings, that has been unleashed during the current administration.

This is the experience of 107 countries: If you only go after gangsters without attacking the financial structure or political protection, what happens is a paradox: you add more troops, prosecutors and police, and the criminal groups put more money into corruption, says Edgardo Buscaglia, advisor to the UN and academic at Mexico's Autonomous Technological Institute (ITAM).

This creates an escalation of violence because criminals respond by bribing high-level officials in order to protect themselves against the state's actions," he adds.

It has happened in Lebanon, Pakistan, Colombia and now it is happening in Mexico: Organized crime has infiltrated the government in a kind of feudalization, buying off officials (governors, mayors and police officers) and influencing them by contributing to their campaigns.

In order for this car to work it has to have four wheels, four combatants: the gangsters, the armed wing, their finances and their politicians, notes Buscaglia.

Would attacking drug trafficking money harm the national economy?

Jorge Santilln, an analyst with the Technological Institute of Higher Learning in Monterrey, believes it would: Mexico lives off of three major money-makers, he says, oil, remittances and drugs.

Buscaglia says that both finances and political interests would be affected: if this sector is attacked, many companies in Mexico and other countries would fall, and their links with officials would be discovered.

"For any president there is a very high political cost because they have to attack the same players they must negotiate with in order to govern: attacking those areas is much more complicated, he adds.

Pedro Isnardo de la Cruz, a specialist in drug trafficking at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), believes that the "failure" of the fight against drug trafficking lies with Caldern. Caldern's war on drugs is simply theatre, Isnardo argues, an act to reassure foreign investment and confidence in his presidency.

"Why hasnt the war on drugs included the Ministry of Finance and banks to track money laundering, and why hasnt more been asked of the U.S. government to cooperate?" he asks.

Analyst and journalist Jorge Fernndez Menndez believes that the opposite it happening: This wave of narcoviolence, he says, is a sign that criminal organizations though they may appear to be strong are actually cracking.

This isnt anything new; it happened in Colombia, he says. "Pablo Escobars people, when their position was weakened or lost, would used increased violence in the same way, from the killings of policemen and officials to the Supreme Court and finally to car bombs and an escalation of kidnappings. But it was not a demonstration of strength, he says, but of weakness."

Related Articles:

Mexican Narcoviolence Spills into U.S. Elections

Drug Trafficking Violence Targets Mexican Police

No Country for Good Men: Drugs and Repression on Mexican Border

U.S. Drug Users: Main Cause for Mexicos Bloodbath

Plan Mexico and the Billion-Dollar Drug Deal

The Cockroach Effect: Narco-Violence Spreads in Mexico

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