Mexico is known for two things–beach resorts and crime. This crime consists of drug trafficking, kidnappings, corruption and violence, all of which are interrelated. I try not to follow the news blindly–after all, most countries deemed Third World are usually portrayed in a negative light, making the news only when tragedy or conflict occurs. Having visited Mexico countless times, I know it is very well possible to walk down the street without being robbed, kidnapped or held at gunpoint. Still, the news this year has been alarming. The number of deaths due to drug violence has doubled from the previous year to over 5,000, and it seems like every couple of weeks there is news about Mexican government officials, policemen or others found dead. This past August, Mexican citizens nationwide dressed in white and took to the streets to cry “Enough!” to the violence plaguing the nation.
I visited my family in Mexico City for the holidays, and asked my cousin, a lifelong resident of the city, if indeed the situation had gotten worse. “It’s probably the same, but it’s just now more out in the open,” she responded.
Other family in Tijuana, however, reported that there are now military men stationed along the border in Hummers. “No one goes out to bars or clubs anymore,” said one cousin. “They either go to each other’s houses or to San Diego.”
The situation is daunting. Drug cartels are often equipped like small armies. That along with the rampant corruption among policemen and politicians make it difficult for much to be done.
But the government owes it to the people; no one should have to live in fear. Equally responsible is the U.S. government. The demand for drugs has made the industry a highly lucrative business. There is no easy solution to the problem, but it will require cooperation of both governments, as well as the governments of other nations plagued by the drug trade, to lower the violence and secure the safety of citizens.
Check out the L.A. Times’ “Strategies for Mexico’s Drug War,” where experts and public figures from all over Latin America give their opinions on what steps to take to fight drug trafficking and violence.