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'Mexico supplies the drugs. We supply the users'

Puebla mexico checkpoint epa

"Over the border and through the cartels to Abuelita's casa we go," begins a recent commentary on the Mexican drug war, published Monday in the Kansas City Star (and also syndicated by Tribune Media Services).

The line by columnist Mary Sanchez refers to the brutal drug-trafficking organizations currently spreading fear and violence across the country, and -- of course -- to the stereotypical sweet grandmother figure that draws so many Mexican Americans back to the country of their ancestors during the Christmas season.

This season, Mexico warned, visitors from the United States should travel in convoys to help avoid the kidnappings and shoot-outs. Feliz Navidad?

Sanchez writes that looking at the drug war in Mexico as merely a south-of-the-border problem ignores half of the equation. The violence, she says, is rooted in competition over which groups get to supply the lucrative demand for narcotics in the United States, the largest drug market in the world, and which groups the Mexican government is attempting to dismantle. The writer argues:

It's easy to cluck our tongues about the gruesome violence "over there," but to do so is to absolve ourselves of the role our country plays in this bloody import/export business. Let's be honest: This is a trade relationship. Mexico supplies the drugs. We supply the users.

Read the entire column here.

The states of Tamaulipas and Michoacan, along with Ciudad Juarez in the state of Chihuahua, are currently bearing the brunt of what that "import/export business" can produce when attempts are made to stop it. See recent related La Plaza posts here and here.

On Thursday and Friday, much of Michoacan was on lock-down as the major local cartel, the cult-like La Familia, battled federal forces. The 36-hour siege gripped a dozen municipalities in the state and paralyzed the capital, Morelia, as gunmen yanked random citizens from their cars and trucks and set fire to vehicles to block the five roads that provide access to the city.

Eight people died in Thursday's fighting, including an 8-month-old who was struck by a stray bullet in the town of Apatzingan (link in Spanish). This is where the heaviest gun battles took place as federal police chased a top figure in La Familia, Nazario Moreno Gonzalez. The capo, known as "El Chayo," is believed to have been killed, the government said Friday.

At least 30,000 people have died in four years of fighting in Mexico. Every day, as Michoacan demonstrated this week, that number grows.

So what do you think, La Plaza readers? Are the debates over the Mexican drug war -- the question of whether the violence is "spilling over" -- inherently asymmetrical, as Sanchez argues? Is the United States government doing its part, doing enough to recognize the war as a binational crisis? How about the American news coverage?

-- Daniel Hernandez in Mexico City

Photo: A woman stands besides her car at a military checkpoint near Puebla, Mexico, in November. Credit: European Pressphoto Agency

Comments () | Archives (30)

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Remember Al Capone during alcohol prohibition? What happened to the violence after prohibition was repealed? We are repeating the past because our government has refused to learn from it. As long as there is a black market for drugs, the violence will continue and escalate, we've seen this before and we know how to end it.

Dang Malcolm Kyle, That's Awesome! A little wordy, but awesome. It would be better as a document that could be browsed at lesiure. It's a waste that it will get buried in the comment section of this article.

Socorro Varela: YOU ARE SCARY!!!
Why even make people take tests? Why not just have Morality Monitors watching everyone. I mean why pick on Marijuana? Why shouldn't we install devices on peoples cars that tell if they have been speeding. Check them every three months - if they had sped since their last check - They lose their license.
If a minor is caught smoking or drinking - cut off their hands. If those little scumbags don't know whats good for 'em. We'll force them into submission.
I also think hypnosis would be an awesome addition. Once a year bring everyone in for hypnotic questioning. Ask if they've thought about screwing their neighbors spouse. If so, Aldultery should be charged and punishment commenced.
However, there is a beter solution for you to live in a country where the government strong-arms it's sheep. You just have to move. Go somewhere in the middle east. You will fit right in.

And the Federal Government supplies the environment that keeps the beast alive.
The title to this story is so much misdirection.
This is really the war on American freedoms. It is the feds war. Not mine. If I could buy a joint at Walmart, I would. But when my freedom to such was stolen from me - I have to go to the pusher. My other choice would be to say "Well that's how the government wants me to live. They know better than me. I guess I will do what they want." Of course, I am not a "sheep", I am human and I have desires and want of experience. I can choose choose to throw away my life by wasting it, living within the confines of the herd or I can be an individual and reach my own goals and platitudes.
So while you can blame me (as a avid Cannibis user) for the results of this "War". Know that this situation can be resolved in a matter of weeks by simply giving us back our Rights and throw out the worthless and often crippling drug laws that have ruined so many lives.
Lastly, Marijauna is only a gateway drug because the Feds force you to associate with criminals to acquire it. When I knock on the pushers door and he invites me in, that is the "gateway" I pass through. I am exposed to all sorts of nasty things and people. If I could buy at Walmart, my friends would be 70 year-old "greeters" and I would know no pushers.

Oh yeah, There is a third way. You might still be labeled a criminal, but if you can aquire "locally grown", at least you are not supporting the smugglers. In fact I propose it is everyones Patriotic duty to buy some pot from your local grower. That will hit the drug cartels where it hurts - the wallet.

Ha ha! RichardSievert

You obviously don't know what sarcasm is.

YOU should seek help.

We must want the drugs here so the only logical solution is legalization. Like alcohol, once it was made legal again the crime rates fell. Legalization will not suddenly make everyone a drug user. If the supply is controlled, taxed (of COURSE) manufacturing regulated, and the people educated, problems will correct themselves. We could all continue to do what is being done now. Albert Einstein said that the definition of insanity was doing the same thing over and over, yet expecting different results. Nixon was the first to call it "The war on drugs" .... and this was going on long before the 70's !!!

I am a Mexican and live in Mexico. I am very frustrated to read the news about Mexico abroad. The only thing you read about is the drug war. 'The country at war'. Although I don't want to underestimate the drug problem I also want to say that this is not happening everywhere in the country. In fact, there is more urban violence in Brazil than in Mexico, nevertheless the perception is radiacally different. It would be nice to read about other things going on in Mex

Like most things in corrupt democracies (both the US and Mexico qualify, to varying degrees), you always have to ask yourself Cui Bono?

While the mass of citizens is harmed by prohibition, those in the upper echelon benefit greatly from drug prohibition. The obvious beneficiaries are Big Pharma, weapons manufacturers. Less obvious is having a very easy crime to pin on anyone you want, and/or a way to keep the poor in their place. Drug crime is the easiest to fake and the incarceration rates are entirely unequal. The elite and their children consume drugs constantly, but are never put in prison, creating a dual justice system that benefits those in power.

Bravo for Sanchez! At last someone admits the obvious. The users of this country have the blood of 30,000++ people on their hands and no way to wash it off so long as the consumption of drugs exists on so vast a scale.

An NO the US government is winking at this evil mess willing only to throw billions of futile dollars at this raging infurno.

Mexico will not get a handle on this cancer until the USA puts an end to consumption. The user MUST be made to pay for his/her "recreational" enjoyment of comodities that kill so many innocent people.


With universal, mandatory drug testing coupled with madatory loss of job, professional license and college scholarship for every American testing positive.

Duh, it is a symbiotic dance. They sell and we buy. No moral high ground on either side.

The United States provides consumers for many products manufactured outside our borders. Many legal, some not. The United States pursues and jails the consumers of illegal drugs at a haunting pace, so much so that our prisons are dramatically overcrowded. To say that, in any way, we are partly to blame, as a Counry, for what is taking place in Mexico, is illogical. The fact that we track down the people making/growing the drugs here is testiment to why they are grown/made outside of our borders. The use of these drugs is also testiment to why we need better education and medical care in our own country.

It doesn't help any that the U.S. media (including the L.A. Times) pushes the meme that the Calderón administration's response to the U.S. financed narcotics export market — and the U.S. government financed attempts to control that market — is a "war".

The reportage in the L.A. Times gives credibility to gangsters when it refers to them as "cartels" or "terrorists", when the simple fact is, outside of the U.S. borderlands there isn´t all that much terror. These are just gangsters, albeit gangsters financed by, and dependent upon, U.S. financial and logistical support.

Certainly, there is violence (both among the gangsters, and created by the state forces responding to gangsterism) but objectively, it is minor compared to similar criminal activities around the globe. In Sicily, it wasn't uncommon for gangsters to blow up entire apartment buildings to kill a single judge, or to set off car bombs leading to much higher levels of "collateral damage". Look at the violence in Russia or Colombia or Guatemala or ... for that matter... the violence the U.S. does internally. Random violence is extremely rare here, when I read in U.S. media every day about stranger on stranger murders or attacks which don't even have the logic of protecting an illegal export industry.

We in Mexico are suffering the "spill over" of U.S. violence, not the other way around.

Sanchez fails to mention that the porous borders are the drug transport systems. If we were to give serious effort to sealing the border, the U. S. and Mexico would enjoy many benefits. With the pipeline removed, there would be fewer people fighting for control of this avenue. The drug murder rate would decline because they cannot supply to the users anymore. The murder, robbing, and raping of emigrants from South American countries and Mexico would decline because the victims would not be making the attempt in the first place.

The violence occurs because it is easy to get into the United States. If the border were impossible to cross illegally, the drugs would dry up, violence against those attempting to cross would be almost eliminated, and our border residents could once again enjoy the benefits of being in this country.

Our porous border is the basis of much of our criminal activity. The debate should not be focused on people coming here to work. It should be an issue of reducing violent and drug related crime.

Steve Rayle
Orlando, Fl.

The life's of the children and innocent are living what they do not want. It is difficult to fight evil but not impossible. Lord Jesus I ask that you come to bring comfort and Love to the ones that are caught in this war. I ask the blood of Jesus be poured upon the nation and protect the children and families who do not want to be a part of this war. Condemn the involved and bring redemption to them to see Your will be done. Lord I ask for a hedge of protection around the innocent. Lord let your angels protect them. In Jesus Christ Name. Amen.

Every-time the ghastly violence of prohibition is falsely blamed on the users, it diminishes the culpability of those who are truly responsible for maintaining the status quo. Prohibition is an absolute scourge -the end! The use of drugs is NOT the real problem, the system that grants exclusive distribution rights to violent cartels and terrorists IS.

May I ask you all to please consider the following very carefully: It wasn't alcohol that caused the surge in crime and homicide during alcohol prohibition in the 1920s, it was the prohibition of alcohol. That's why many of us find it hard to believe that the same thing is not happening now. We clearly have a prohibition fueled violent crime problem. A huge number of these violent crimes are perpetrated by criminal syndicates and gangs who use the proceeds from the sales of illegal substances to further even more of their criminal activities.

The second biggest business during prohibition in Detroit was liquor at $215 million a year and employing about 50,000 people. Authorities were not only helpless to stop it, many were part of the problem. During one raid the state police arrested Detroit Mayor John Smith, Michigan Congressman Robert Clancy and Sheriff Edward Stein.

The Mexican cartels are ready to show, that when it comes to business, they also like to be nonpartisan. They will buy-out or threaten politicians of any party, make deals with whoever can benefit them, and kill those who are brave or foolish enough to get in their way.

If you support prohibition then you're either a black market profiteer, a terrorist, a corrupt politician, a sadomoralist, a wing-nut socialist, fake-conservative or a prohibitionist excrementalist.

If you support prohibition then you've helped trigger the worst crime wave in history, raising gang warfare to a level not seen since the days of alcohol bootlegging.

If you support prohibition you've a helped create a black market with massive incentives to hook both adults and children alike.

If you support prohibition you've helped to make these dangerous substances available in schools and prisons.

If you support prohibition you've helped put previously unknown and contaminated drugs on the streets.

If you support prohibition you've helped to escalate Murder, Theft, Muggings and Burglaries.

If you support prohibition you've helped to divert scarce law-enforcement resources away from protecting your fellow citizens from the ever escalating violence against their person or property.

If you support prohibition you've helped to prevent the sick and dying from obtaining safe and effective medication.

If you support prohibition you've helped remove many important civil liberties from those citizens you falsely claim to represent.

If you support prohibition you've helped create the prison-for-profit synergy with drug lords.

If you support prohibition you've helped escalate the number of people on welfare who can't find employment due to their felony status.

If you support prohibition you're responsible for the horrific racial disparities which have breed generations of incarcerated and disenfranchised Afro Americans.

If you support prohibition you've helped evolve local gangs into transnational enterprises with intricate power structures that reach into every corner of society, controlling vast swaths of territory with significant social and military resources at their disposal.

If you support prohibition you're promoting a policy which kills our children, endangers our troops, counteracts our foreign policy and reduces much of the developing world to anarchy.

If you support prohibition then you are guilty of turning the federal, state and local governments into a gargantuan organized crime syndicate, interested only in protecting it's own corrupt interests. -- The very acts for which we initially created governments to protect us from, have become institutionalized. Thanks to prohibition, government now provides 'services' at the barrel of a gun.

Neurotics build castles in the sky, psychotics live in them; the concept of a "Drug-Free Society" is a neurotic fantasy and Prohibition's ills are a product of this psychotic delusion.

Prohibition is nothing less than a grotesque dystopian nightmare; if you support it you must be either ignorant, stupid, brainwashed, corrupt or criminally insane.

If you support prohibition then prepare yourself for even more death, corruption, sickness, imprisonment, unemployment, foreclosed homes, and the complete loss of the rule of law and the Bill of Rights.

It's not the people in america it's the poison in america that's used to process this cocaine, It's that's what is poisoning our children's minds 'OK this is and invasion and they are using fuel to break down the coca leaf a great herb thats than turned into a sick form of poison! If you poison a bug it flips around and does all kinds of acrobatic tricks, before it stops moving and dies 'Thats all this is the addiction is from the plant the side effects and burnt lips or nose hair fibers , are from the poison, The Poison they use to extract the plant but than the substance remains poisoned! Quit blaming americans for being poisoned your making me so mad i see fire on my stove and it's not even lit! This war on america is not from mexico its from our own country thats where they are getting the poison to proses the cocaine!
'First the financial invasion than the physical we are near the second faze!

jose, these is help for you out there, i would say contact your GP immediately (as i always do for ill posters) but a psychiatrist is more in order in your sound like part of the problem!

The more prohibition continues the more this Cartel drug problem will increase, wake up and smell the future and stop living in the past.

Prohibition didn't work in the 20s nor is it working today. Once our government wakes up and realize that the drug problem can't be solved with the War on Drugs policies the better off both countries will be. While our prison system is over crowded due to the drugs on war Mexico has to deal with the drug wars due to our drug policy. Wake up people! The first step to legalizing drugs for personal use will come again in 2012 with another attempt to legalize cannabis.

Why is hemp illegal?

We are of course complicit in the drug war. How could there even be a question about that? There is a close historical economic relationship between the US and Mexico whereby they supply our demand, whether for cheap labor or drugs, whatever the market may bear. The bloodbath, the civil war, in Mexico is as much our fault as theirs, and the implications for both countries are enormous. Coupled with the unprecedented diaspora pouring forth from Mexico across our border, this is a time of systemic unrest that will reverberate for years on both sides. Our demand for drugs, for ways to ease the pain of living in modern America where being adrift is our common cause, will not lessen, and therefore the drugs will continue to flow.

Maybe, if we just ignore it, it will go away.

Drug consumption in the US is not the problem, US-backed drug prohibition is the problem. If the drugs were legal and their use medicalized, the profit motive that drives the cartels would disappear immediately. "Just Say No" to drug prohibition and the horrors of the drug war in Mexico will vanish.

Drug wars are deadly for both the user end of the equation and the communities forced to tolerate producers/suppliers. I see drug abuse in the US as a social, mental and medical condition that should be treated without using our over-burdened justice system- this requires highly regulated quasi- decriminalization of narcotics.

The endemic economic disparity in our country has divided our communities, driven us to crime and self-medication, and dissolved our sense of wholeness as human beings- these lead the most socially disenfranchised to drugs and alcohol, and most do not have the option of the deluxe rehab programs that our celebrities do.

I think our government and the Mexican government should target the violent, murderous cartels with all they have. But that approach will never bring a permanent resolution to the issue until our own population becomes free from the need to escape our present, highly stratified social reality.

So who are these drug users? I don't know any. Are they all Hollywood types?
Why doesn't this "newspaper" investigate and tell us?

No one produces or sells products that consumers don't demand. The US is absolutely complicit in the drug war in Mexico and S. American; Europe is complicit in the drug trade in Afghanistan and the Middle East.

1st drug offense. A warning.
2nd drug offense. 1 year in prison.
3rd drug offense. Death.

See the destruction that is caused by ourselves in waging this War on Drugs? I say it's better to let those who want the drugs HAVE the drugs. That way, this scenario would completely stop because they couldn't make money at it anymore. These drug users get their drugs anyway, WITH the laws. Since it's a total failure, wouldn't it be easier to deal with these people using their drugs than it is to have all these innocent people killed and maimed? When it's all said and done, the people get their drugs anyway. Don't give me any bull about "what message it sends". Messages are worth much less than human life is worth.
The prohibitionist approach is illogical and destructive.

As a resident of the U.S. I am ashamed that so many of our people are using drugs. It is very sad to see the corresponding violence that is occurring in Mexico. I have read about how peaceful Ciudad Juarez use to be, and how people from the U.S. enjoyed visiting it. Now through our enslavement to drugs, the city has become a battle zone, and Mexican residents are being forced to flee their homes and move to El Paso. Who can blame them? And our country is a big part of the problem. We need political leadership who can see drugs for what they are--a form of enslavement. We need leaders with a moral character to their lives, leaders who will lead our countries, and pray for our countries, and leaders who will work with each other and bring out the best of the relationship that Mexico and the United States can have. Things could be so much better we all know. The drug use and corruption must end.

When I read articles about the violence in the Mexican cities, I often look up the city using google to see images of the city and what it looks like. Today I was looking at pictures of Morelia. It is a beautiful city, with the aqueduct, and the cathredral, and surrounding hills. How unfortunate it is that it is a haven for drug lords. We can only pray that Our Lady intercede for us, that there be an end of drug use, and that peace will come. I would like to visit Mexico some day.

The cartels have an interest in keeping the market side of the border calm and non-violent. Therefore, it seems somewhat unlikely that the violence would spill over to the US. Of course, unforeseen events could change the situation, such as a movement of large-scale production to US soil. When things got too hot in the Caribbean and the southeast US, drug routes shifted to Mexico. Similarly, hot fighting for drug routes within Mexico could cause a shift in those routes or production elsewhere. Some have suggested the shift has already begun to the northwest US and other secluded environments within US borders.

Not only is the violence spilling over the border, it is in fact being pushed over the border.

Hillary Clinton said that she wanted to impose the policies which worked so well in Colombia on to Mexico.

Today Colombia is noted by the UN Refugee Agency as being the country with the most displaced population. Implementing the same brutal tactics used in Colombia, Mexico stands to surpass Colombia as the number one displaced population.

Where else can the displaced Mexican population go except over the border into the U.S?

The problem is the government hasn’t taken the drug war seriously.

They should close all of the public universities and convert them into prisons. We only need a few educated engineers and lawyers which can be done at the private universities.

And as the universities are being converted to prisons, do drug tests on the students and only allow them to leave if they pass the test.

All of the state laws which allow small amounts of marijuana need to be declared illegal under federal law. After that possessing any amount of marijuana can earn a sentence with a minimum of 10 years.

Once we have a large prison population, we can put them to work assembling gadgets at wages comparable to China and finally we can compete in the world arena.


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