At the moment in México, a protest movement has started called the No Mas Sangre (No More Blood) movement. This movement is attempting to show that people do not support nor wish to continue the war on los narcos, which was started in the 2006 after the election of Felipe Calderón (Partido Accionista Nacional). Calderón began this drug war with the support of the United States through the Merida Initiative and also the verbal backing of President George W. Bush. The point of this war was to eradicate the drug cartels in México, that came into power during the 70 year rule of the Partido Revolucinario Institucional, and also through the loss of strength of the Colombian cartels. However, this drug war has not stopped the drug trade, nor has it made México any more secure for its citizens. Actually, this war has increased the insecurity of Mexican citizens, after more than 31,000 deaths (read homicides; now much nearer to 40,000) over the past 4 years in relation to this erroneous intervention by Calderón and American foreign support. It has reduced tourism, which then has adversely effected the Mexican economy, based on large amounts of tourism to locations such as Cancún, Acapulco, and student tourism to cities such as Cuernavaca and Ciudad de México. This is directly related to the loss of legitimacy to the security of Mexican citizens and foreigners from the drug war that was began by Felipe Calderón. An increase in feminicide, the horrendous murders of innocent children by cartels (most recently in Cuernavaca), and in some states and cities in México the loss of living a normal life without the fear of death hanging from the people’s shoulders. Nothing points to any form of benefit that was derived from this war, actually all facts point towards the opposite. Even when leading figures in the drug cartels are captured, it is not as if there does not exist many more who were already attempting to earn those positions within those criminal organizations. This drug war is across multiple countries but the focus of this paper will be on the cross-section of the US and México within the frame of the causes and effects of the drug war.
It is proper to primarily discuss how the American government and its policies adversely effect the nation-state of México and its citizens, being that this article is addressed to an English speaking audience. Let’s begin with a simple example of how US government policy has negative effects outside of its boundaries, the example of “gun-walking”. The Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) had implemented a program where they were selling guns to people known to smuggle them across the US-Mexican Border (guns laws being stricter in México), and then selling them to los narcos. Their reason was that they were attempting to follow the guns and find out who was purchasing them, but they would lose the trace after it crossed the border. This means that US taxpayers were aiding and abetting criminal organizations in another country by supplying them with weapons. However, this does not mean that all guns are coming from the US, but only to show that US foreign policy is ridiculous in the context of the Mexican drug war. This foolish program has definitively harmed the status of US policy in the eyes of many Mexicans, which would not be the first time. Actually, it is a constantly occurring event, from the construction of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which forcefully removed many rural Mexicans to urban areas through an economic policy that disallowed Mexican farmers to compete against large scale American Agribusiness. Or the constant stream of military hardware and training from America to México that enabled the creation of cartels such as Los Zetas, and a military-industrial complex within México. American foreign policy towards México has proved detrimental time and again, and needs to be reformulated, along with a reformulation of American domestic policy.
The “War on Drugs” domestically has meant the criminalizing of the youth and minorities within the US, and led to a huge boom in the incarcerated population of this country. Even though the US is the largest drug market in the world, the statistics do not show for any drug anything above a fourth of the youth population (Marijuana and Alcohol being the ones near a fourth). Alcohol is the highest percentage, not surprising considering that it is legal after 21, therefore legitimating it within American society. Instead of instituting decriminalization policies (also known as harm-reduction policies) and treatment/prevention programs similar to other European Union countries, it continues wasting billions of dollars on a failing drug war. This drug war has also increased the militarization of the US-México border, along with a possible future violence spill over, which is bound to happen with two highly linked nation-states. This militarization has not stopped drugs from entering the United States or being used, and this was meant to be the goal. And as always with any form of black market, it can lead to corruption of political institutions, not only in México, but as well in the Department of Homeland Security here in the United States. This corruption does not end within government institutions, but impacts upon business ethical practices when large financial institutions launder cartel funds. The drug war then is a large scale problem affecting the social, political, and economical in ways that need to be remedied otherwise it is disastrous for both the United States of America and the United States of México.
Internal to México are also many problems that need to be addressed. The links or imposition of power between México’s political elite and the political elite of other countries has been a constant reason for domestic policies that do not bode well for the citizens of México. Take for instance Canada, where a multitude of mining companies are constantly bidding on land in México. These companies come in destroy land, create unsafe working environments for workers with low pay, and pay basically nothing in taxes or for the land, benefiting the political elite. However, once again this problem along with the massive emigration from rural farms to urban factories has been the result of NAFTA. NAFTA was like having a 200 lb. man fighting a vertically challenged person and expecting a better outcome than the midget being badly bruised and unable to cope with the damage for quite some time. Juarez was a result of this fight, and then the continuation of this process as those urban factory jobs were then shipped to China. Afterwards, what was left was the demoralized, unemployed, and hungry to fight a war for the cartels wanting access across the border. Those people are now fighting a drug war that is hurting Mexican business through loss of investment, loss of trade, and loss of tourism. So, México is itself creating issues through an elite that could careless about sound domestic economic policy which reduces poverty, increases opportunity, and operates without corruption.
The Mexican drug trade is everyone’s problem, it is not a national conflict, but the first real international transnational conflict without standing armies. These are not some dudes in a cave plotting to launch a plane. These are dudes building armored trucks, submarines, and have military grade weaponry. It is linked to the US through the high levels of drug usage, the fact that it has inputted itself through policy and other actions into the fight, and through its horrendous trade deals. México on its side, as has been pointed out by Javier Sicilia, needs to rebuild its institutions so they do not permit impunity and corruption. Without correct remedies business will go down, poverty will increase, along with insecurity. Welcome to a War against your citizens.
By. Andrew Smolski
Andrew Smolski is a contributor at Oilprice.com and specializes in Political/Economic Sociology. His work has been syndicated in many leading online publications and he can be reached at email@example.com