2012 Commentary: U.S. Needs to Do More to Help End Drug-Related Violence in Mexico

Abstract: The recent murder of 49 people in Mexico is just the latest in a string of drug related violence which has claimed the lives of approximately 50,000 people in that country since 2006. Americans have an obligation to help Mexico curtail this violence.

Mexican Drug Cartels and Their Areas of Influence (1)
Mexican authorities recently announced that they located a mass grave containing the mutilated corpses of 49 people. The government stated that a local drug gang, the Zetas, claimed responsibility for the killings. These deaths are likely related to a conflict between the Zetas and "rival groups for control of smuggling routes." Amazingly, per a Reuters article, this type of drug related violence is a routine event in Mexico, as "more than 50,000 people have fallen victim to the conflict [since 2006]." These deaths serve as a reminder that America's drug war has consequences for other countries.

Americans who use drugs should take a moment to consider how their actions are impacting other nations. Per an NPR article, U.S. consumption of cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamines helps to buttress a violent drug trafficking network that stretches throughout Mexico and into adjacent countries. Americans' demand for these drugs might provide employment to some people in these areas but at a high cost, as the 50,000 drug-related deaths (in Mexico alone) testify. These murdered men and women are not the only casualties of this war. Their families are left without brothers, sisters, and parents. Additionally, it is likely that many times this number of individuals live in fear of the local drug cartels. Per MSNBC, as a result of the drug trade, "the country is one of the most dangerous to be a journalist, [sic] kidnapping and extortion are rife."

At the same time, U.S. state and federal politicians should remember that the decisions they make with regards to the nation's drug war have consequences for other countries. They should periodically assess whether or not the U.S. is winning this conflict. If, as the MSNBC article implies, the U.S. is not making any headway in curtailing drug use among its citizens, politicians should either dedicate more money to enforcement efforts or discuss potentially legalizing (and strictly controlling the use of) some drugs. Either way, Americans should not settle for the status quo if it is not producing results; they owe that much to their brothers and sisters who are dying as a result of the drug cartel wars in Mexico and in other Latin American countries.

Americans are partly to blame for the violence in Mexico that has claimed the lives of approximately 50,000 people since 2006. They owe it to the people in Mexico as well as to themselves to work harder to curtail drug use in the U.S. by whatever means is most feasible.

1. Creator: U.S. Congress, Committee on Foreign Relations
    Date: 2007
    Title/Description: The Merida Initiative, a U.S. Counter-Narcotics Assistance to Mexico.
    Location/Permission: Wikimedia Commons - U.S. government document (click on the title to see the
    artwork, credits, and permissions).

-- Anthony Hopper

#crime #drugs #Mexico #US #United States #politics #opinion

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