Inside Opinion

What's on the minds of Tacoma News Tribune editorial writers

NOTICE: Inside Opinion has moved.

With the launch of our new website, we've moved Inside Opinion.
Visit the new section.

Mexico can’t win drug war without U.S.

Post by Kim Bradford on April 20, 2010 at 7:05 pm with 2 Comments »
April 20, 2010 5:06 pm

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

A war is raging south of the U.S.-Mexican border, one that increasingly poses a direct threat to Americans.

The vicious battle for power among Mexican drug cartels claimed another 1,000 lives in March. That’s a record even for Mexico, a country that’s home to the most dangerous city in the world outside a declared war zone: Ciudad Juarez.

That metropolis across the border from El Paso, Texas, averages seven executions a day. Three Americans associated with the U.S. consulate were among the casualties one day last month. People who can afford to leave do; as many as 30,000 houses have been abandoned. Those left behind hunker down, avoiding eye contact with strangers, cell phone calls from unknown numbers and large gatherings.

The growing body count across Mexico puts this year on pace to surpass 2009, when 9,635 people died in violence tied to organized crime. In all, more than 22,700 gang members, police officers, soldiers and bystanders have been killed in drug-related violence since the Mexican government’s crackdown on cartels began more than three years ago.

Mere proximity to so much lawlessness automatically puts Americans at risk. But the root cause of this violence – the relentless race to supply Americans’ insatiable demand for illicit drugs – practically guarantees that carnage won’t stop at the border.

The Mexican drug trade dumps tons of heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine onto U.S. streets every year, where it claims lives and whole communities. Border communities are especially terrorized. Last month, an Arizona cattle rancher was gunned down on his property near the border. Authorities suspect the rancher had run across a drug smuggler. Tracks from the murder scene led back across the border.

Mexico’s inability to quell the violence is closely linked to the United States’ failure to adequately police its southern border. The drug cartels rely on a porous border – illegal drugs pour north, and the money and guns that power the gangland wars flow back.

Until the U.S. government gets serious about controlling the flow of illegal immigration into this country and about securing its border, the cartels will continue to have an upper hand. But even the best border security won’t restore order. The Mexican drug trade is fueled not just by U.S. demand, but also by the absence of economic opportunity in Mexico.

In Ciudad Juarez, the Mexican government has launched a new strategy aimed at the social factors like joblessness that drive violence and gang life. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recently pledged U.S. support.

Assistance is vital. This is the United States’ fight as much as Mexico’s, and America needs to treat it as such.

Leave a comment Comments → 2
  1. malcolmkyle says:

    We will always have adults who are too immature to responsibly deal with tobacco alcohol, heroin amphetamines, cocaine, various prescription drugs and even food. Our answer to them should always be: “Get a Nanny, and stop turning the government into one for the rest of us!”

    Nobody wants to see an end to prohibition because they want to use drugs. They wish to see proper legalized regulation because they are witnessing, on a daily basis, the dangers and futility of prohibition. ‘Legalized Regulation’ won’t be the complete answer to all our drug problems, but it’ll greatly ameliorate the crime and violence on our streets, and only then can we provide effective education
    and treatment.

    The whole nonsense of ‘disaster will happen if we end prohibition’ sentiment sums up the delusional ‘chicken little’ stance of those who foolishly insist on continuing down this blind alley. As if disaster wasn’t already happening. As if prohibition has ever worked.

    To support prohibition is such a strange mind-set. In fact, It’s outrageous insanity! –Literally not one prohibitionist argument survives scrutiny. Not one!

    The only people that believe prohibition is working are the ones making a living by enforcing laws in it’s name, and those amassing huge fortunes on the black market profits. This situation is wholly unsustainable, and as history has shown us, conditions will continue to deteriorate until we finally, just like our forefathers, see sense and revert back to tried and tested methods of regulation. None of these substances, legal or illegal, are ever going to go away, but we CAN decide to implement policies that do far more good than harm.

    During alcohol prohibition in the 1920s, all profits went to enrich thugs and criminals. Young men died every day on inner-city streets while battling over turf. A fortune was wasted on enforcement that could have gone on treatment. On top of the budget-busting prosecution and incarceration costs, billions in taxes were lost. Finally the economy collapsed. Sound familiar?

    In an underground drug market, criminals and terrorists, needing an incentive to risk their own lives and liberty, grossly inflate prices which are further driven higher to pay those who ‘take a cut’ like corrupt law enforcement officials who are paid many times their wages to look the other way. This forces many users to become dealers themselves in order to afford their own consumption. This whole vicious circle turns ad infinitum. You literally couldn’t dream up a worse scenario even if your life depended on it. For the second time within a century, we’ve carelessly lost “love’s labour” , and, “with the hue of dungeons and the scowl of night”, have wantonly created our own worst nightmare.

    So should the safety and freedom of the rest of us be compromised because of the few who cannot control themselves?

    Many of us no longer think it should!

  2. tylakewalker says:

    Nice post malcolmkyle. Thank you for taking the time to write it.

We welcome comments. Please keep them civil, short and to the point. ALL CAPS, spam, obscene, profane, abusive and off topic comments will be deleted. Repeat offenders will be blocked. Thanks for taking part and abiding by these simple rules.

JavaScript is required to post comments.

Follow the comments on this post with RSS 2.0