“MEXICO CITY — On a working visit here, I have dinner with one of the country’s elder statesmen and listen to him describe its greatest challenges. He names three: “Rule of law. Rule of law. And rule of law.”
The truth of the observation is underscored a few days later, when gunmen kill nine members of the LeBarón family along a back-country road in the northern state of Sonora. The motive for the massacre is unclear, but its barbarity is not: three women and six children, including infant twins, shot at close range and burned alive in their cars.
The episode has gained major attention in the U.S. largely because the LeBaróns are part of a longstanding American Mormon presence in northern Mexico. (George Romney, the late Michigan governor and Mitt’s father, was born in a Mormon colony in Chihuahua in 1907, which he was forced to flee as a child during the Mexican Revolution.)
But the reason the killings really matter is that they are yet another reminder that Mexico is on a fast track toward becoming a failed state.”
David Lindsay: Here are the top NYT comments, some of which I endorsed:
And where do the drug cartels get their power? From money, by selling drugs. And who is buying the drugs? US citizens. Maybe we should frame the argument as the US has a drug problem that is affecting the social fabric of Mexico. For as long as I can remember, Mexico has had a corruption problem. What has changed is the extent to which drug money has flowed into the country from the US. We need to work together to solve this problem. Brett’s idea of a large powerful ‘civil military’ seems particularly dangerous as it raises the specter of a military junta taking over the country and destroying Mexico’s democracy.
Legalize drugs, and this particular problem goes away. Doing so introduces other problems, of course, which can be managed with treatment, education and consequential punishment for misuse. No solution is perfect. But it’s past time to move beyond prohibition as a strategy.
We most definitely are part of this problem. Our “war on drugs” created the cartels. Our prohibition on drugs provides them the revenue they need. These cartel wars are no different than the inter-gang fights during Prohibition here. Our open and unfettered access to military grade weaponry along with the “iron pipeline” to Mexico provides them with arms. Of course there were weaknesses in Mexico that enabled this to happen but, like it or not, the single largest contributor to this issue is the United States.
If we’re serious about the well being of Mexico we might start by reforming both our gun laws and our own drug laws. We are the final destination of the illegal drugs that make up the cartels empire. Our banks launder their money and make enormous fees in the process. Yet, prosecutions of those banks rarely occurs and when it does, like HSBC, they pay a fine and move on. Not a single bank executive has ever faced prosecution for laundering drug money. We also know that by decriminalizing drug use and treating it as a public health issues in the US we can substantially reduce the profits from that industry. Most of the guns wrecking havoc throughout Mexico come across the border from Texas, where they can be bought legally, shipped in illegally and sold for huge profits. If Mexico is on the verge of becoming a failed state, we seem oblivious to our contribution to their problems. Ultimately Mexico will have to address these issues. But the US should not be making that effort more difficult. Yet, we are and for some reason Stephens seems to omit this fact.