Teaching Comparative Government and Politics

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Threats to Mexican government and regime

Crime is everywhere, punishment elusive

"Violence has reached an almost surreal level in this city bordering on San Diego ground zero in Mexico's fierce war on drugs. Beheadings, police officers shot in their beds, videotaped executions broadcast on the Internet, heads found in buckets, bodies in vats of acid. Dr. Quiroz has seen it all.

"In November, the army moved in. And still the bodies keep coming...

"There has always been a baseline of narco-violence in Mexico. The illicit activities of drug traffickers were tolerated, not only by society, but by the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) that ruled Mexico for 70 years until 2000. A tacit agreement between the party and the cartels kept the drug lords in business and made many politicians rich.

"But when President Felipe Calderon took office in December, 2006, he launched an all-out offensive against the organized criminal syndicates...

"But instead of bringing peace to Mexico's border cities, Mr. Calderon's campaign has so far only resulted in epidemic violence as the cartels fight back with fury...

"It is hard to reconcile these images of Mexico with the tourist images of a sun-baked paradise...

"[T]he drug war that threatens to destabilize one NAFTA partner, threatens them all..

"If the rule of law in this country of 110 million isn't re-established, the country could become a narco-state. Some fear parts of it already are...

"Several recent initiatives do reflect a new willingness to fight impunity, said Monte Alejandro Rubido, head of the secretariat of Mr. Calderon's powerful National System of Public Security. Among them: judicial reforms; a police hotline similar to Crime Stoppers; a national accord committing unions, business, civil society and the government to strengthen Mexico's democracy. In his first 23 months in office, Mr. Calderon has extradited 166 men and women to the United States, Europe and Latin America, including several leaders of the Arellano Felix syndicate.

"'This is a long-term fight that won't be resolved overnight. The great challenge for the Mexican state is to ensure that the next generation won't become victims,' Mr. Rubido says, sitting in his office in the capital, flanked by several red phones and a Mexican flag...

"Jorge Chabat, a national-security expert at Mexico City's Centro de Investigacion y Docencia Economica, laughs when asked at what point Mexico's security situation will improve. 'I don't think we will see any significant change before two years. I would say this is optimistic. Most people think we'll never see a change, ever.'"

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