The Inside Joke
Song - Artist - Album
Mouthful of Diamonds - Phantogram - Eyelid Movies
Killings on the Mexican border have surpassed the number of civilian deaths reported throughout the entire nation of Afghanistan last year. Chihuahua, which borders Texas and New Mexico, reported 2,276 deaths from drug related violence for the period January - September 2011. During the same period the U.S. led war effort in Afghanistan caused 2,177 civilian deaths, according to a Congressional Research Service report.
Since toughening his rhetoric and policy initiatives in the past 5-6 years, President Felipe Calderón presided over a country which saw 47,515 drug-related killings in 5 years (December 2006-2011), violence escalating as police and military took to the streets of Mexico in an effort to 'crack down' on drug gangs. Unfortunately, this is likely all they can do, and simply adopting heavy-handed tactics almost never works (remember drug trade has not slowed and violence has increased). One of the main roots of this misery is the drug policy of the U.S. government. The draconian set of laws which apply to drug crimes have filled our own prison system to capacity, but the same set of laws also spread violence and corruption beyond American borders.
The massive amounts of money flowing with the drug trade allow these organizations to be as violent, expansive and effective as they are. They give criminal organizations the resources to corrupt and bribe law enforcement officials, politicians, policy makers, etc., and to recover from almost any seizure or other successful law enforcement action. As the cartels can afford military-grade weapons with their massive profits, "war" is an appropriate term for the situation in the U.S./Mexico border region.
Activities like drug use cannot be legislated and/or enforced out of existence. Our own prohibition of alcohol proved disastrous and brought about a dynamic of criminal cartels competing for significant swaths of the country, a situation similar to what Mexico is currently experiencing. Redefining the issue as one of public health would not only severely reduce the burden on prison systems around this country, it would attack the root of the problem instead of the simply reacting to the symptoms as they manifest. The eventual result would be a decrease in profitability and therefore a less prolific criminal element south of the U.S. border. The approach would benefit many; we need only the collective resolve to question long-standing policy.