Northward Flow of Human Substrate: Bringing Mexican Drug Massacres to the US and Canada via Weak Border Control a la Obama
Nearly 35,000 people have been killed in Mexico's drug-related violence since the end of 2006, when President Felipe Calderon ordered a military-led crackdown on the country's drug cartels. _VOANewsThousands of Mexicans marched against the violence in Mexican cities recently, but President Calderon may have given up. Mexican media certainly seems to be doing its best to ignore the underlying reality driving the organised violence.
The best place to find news about what is going on in Mexico -- and what is likely to come to Canada and the US unless stronger US border security is enforced -- is the Spanish language blog, the Narco Blog.
While much of Mexico's mainstream media, especially television stations and local newspapers, has shied away from covering killings and naming the cartels involved, the narco blog and its anonymous curator, publish graphic details of spiraling violence.
"Individuals journalists are doing the best they can, but in general I don't think the media has done a fair job in covering drug violence," says Lucila Vargas, a professor of journalism at the University of North Carolina who studies Mexico's media landscape. "The media in Mexico are commercial enterprises and their first concern is with the bottom line," she told Al Jazeera.
Like most large scale industries in Mexico, the media - particularly television stations - are highly concentrated in a few hands. Mexicans are more likely to own a television set than to have access to running water but two TV stations - Televisa and TV Azteca - control 94 per cent of television entertainment content, according to the Mexican Right to Information Association.
While experts and average people criticise the mainstream press, there is clearly an appetite for the narco blog's coverage. _aljazeera
The strongest, most violent gangs, are led by former Mexican military officers and elite troops. There are indications that elements of the Mexican government and military are cooperating with these "quasi-military" gangs, for their own self-preservation, profit, and continued political power. Such bottom-to-top corruption may be common among the most impoverished nations of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. But Mexico is considered an emerging nation, with a relatively prosperous per capita GDP, by global standards. Its relatively high GDP plus its proximity to wealthy Anglo North America, leads most observers to expect more from Mexico than outright bloody anarchy. And the anarchy is becoming more firmly entrenched with every passing day:
Over 28,000 Mexicans have been killed, with bloody gang wars breaking out throughout the country and unprecedented violence and terror affecting the lives of ordinary citizens. And although some drug kingpins have been taken off the playing field and significant drug shipments and weapon arsenals have been seized, it is difficult to claim any battles truly won. In fact, Mexico’s drug gangs have become more firmly entrenched in the organized crime world, with much of their income coming from other illegal activities, such as extortion, kidnapping, smuggling, counterfeiting and human trafficking.Perhaps close to 10% of Mexico's economy comes from violent drug gang activity. But the actual influence of these marauding, quasi-military gangs is far greater than their economic impact. They are making large areas of Mexico unlivable for civilised persons.
...President Calderón and other government officials “lack the political will” to attack this aspect of organized crime. Furthermore, “no key individual or group within the country’s political elite is willing to shake up the bee’s nest” and “go all the way to the highest political and economic levels” of Mexican society to put a stop to the illegal money flow.
Permeating the economy
Just how much money from organized crime is circulating in Mexico’s economy? According to Piñeyro, estimates range from $25 billion to $35 billion introduced into the Mexican economy annually. He specified that this money flows into the country’s legal formal sectors, as well as informal sectors (mostly small-scale economic activities not registered with the Treasury Department that make up a significant portion of the Mexican economy) and in criminal activities.
According to Samuel González Ruíz, who once served as Mexico’s chief of Prosecutors against Organized Crime and is now a security analyst and law professor at Mexico’s National Autonomous University, the situation is out of control, with dirty money in many economic sectors—far beyond those traditionally infiltrated by organized crime, such as construction, real estate and stolen vehicles. _Borderland
Multiple massacres in the same location, the unearthing of mass graves, the use of sledge hammers as weapons of execution, presumably to save the cost of bullets, and the routine use of "payback" murders of civilian workers (including women and children) by rival gangs --- points to a widespread creeping horror permeating life not just in borderland cities, but into the heart of Mexico. Even drug rehab centres in Mexico are evolving into foci of drug gang terror and murder.
US President Obama's response to all of this is to order US Border Patrol agents not to enforce border laws, and to go on a legal offensive against the US state of Arizona -- which is lawfully attempting to enforce on-the-books US laws against illegal immigration.
Some have accused Mexican President Calderon of being in league with the strongest and most militarised drug gangs, and others have accused US President Obama of passively promoting illegal immigration and lax enforcement of US border controls and voting laws, in order to increase votes for his political coalition and party.
It is clear that the current US government is not taking the threat seriously, and is placing its citizens in an increasingly vulnerable posture with regard to the northward creeping lawlessness, corruption, and bloody violence.
What is the answer? The problem has gone far beyond drug trafficking into kidnapping, robbing and massacre of travelers on cross-country buses, and the typical activities of organised crime -- gambling, prostitution, extortion, sophisticated armed robberies, political corruption etc. Any solution must take all of that into account, along with the ever-present threat of allowing the importing of global terrorism along with narco-terrorism along southern US borders.
If Americans have better legal methods of "getting high," they are less likely to seek out the products of illegal gangs and smugglers -- thus cutting off the profits of drug gangs at the hips. If you want to cut the profits off at the neck, you will need to enforce border security as if it were a matter of national security -- which it is.
Canada's future security depends upon the will of the US government to enforce its own security concerns. If the US fails, both Canadians and Americans will ultimately suffer.
A 2010 analysis of drug war coverage from the Fundacion MEPI, and investigate journalism center, found that regional newspapers in Mexico are failing to report most execution style killings linked to cartels. Journalists interviewed for the study said threats, bribes and other forms of pressure influenced their decisions not to cover killings or name the suspected cartels involved.
"Organised crime members have tried to bribe or influence traditional media [and] that is the importance of social media," says Raul Trejo Delabre, an independent media analyst in Mexico City.
"Thirty three million Mexicans use the Internet everyday," he told Al Jazeera, adding that average people use Twitter, Facebook and cellphone text messages to warn their friends about shoot-outs in the neighbourhood. The blog gets at least three million hits per week, the anonymous author told Associated Press in 2010 and the stats are likely higher now.
Regardless of the role of citizen journalism in keeping people informed or the journalistic ethics behind drug war coverage guidelines, Lucila Vargas doesn't think the policy will make much of a dent in the violence engulfing Mexico. "Journalism is only part of the popular culture landscape, which includes film, music and TV programmes and all of these have been glorifying the violence," she told Al Jazeera. _aljazeera
Mexico may be a lost cause. The US and Canada can be saved, if their governments realise that their nations are under attack in an undeclared war which presents a far greater threat than an overt war, due to its ongoing ability to kill and conquer from a place of media cover and political protection.