What would you think?
If you lived in a country where 13 majors have been killed in less than 12 months.
If more than 28,000 of your countrymen had died during the current administration (in less than 4 years).
If you lived in a place branded as the “most dangerous country for journalists in the continent”.
You would probably think you live in some distant eastern country, but you could be mistaken. You could be living in Mexico, just a few kilometres south from the United States of America.
When current President Felipe Calderon took office on 2006, he launched an army-led crackdown against drug lords and criminals. At the beginning, he and his staff identified this movement as a war against organized crime. Political correctness and international discontent have now led them to replace the word war for fight.
National Intelligence chief Guillermo Valdes said on August 2nd that more than 28,000 people had died in drug-related violence since 2006. If the killings continue to increase at the current rate that total will rise to about 75,000 by the time the government’s term in office ends in December 2012.
Mexico’s northern border towns are experiencing the worst of the violence. According to the BBC, Ciudad Juarez (just across from El Paso in Texas) is the city suffering the most, although that is debatable. Some other cities like Reynosa, and Monterrey have been experiencing overwhelming ways of violence and crime during the last few months. There are also high levels of violence in Michoacan and Guerrero states.
The discoveries of illegal burial sites with several bodies are no strange in the Mexican Republic. Mass graves (known in Mexico as ‘narcofosas’) have been turning up increasingly frequently some containing dozens of bodies. Beheadings and bodies hung from bridges point to a rise in gruesome attacks.
Two cartels – Los Zetas and La Familia Michoacana – have the highest capacity for violence.
Los Zetas operate in 19 states and La Familia Michoacana in five, and share a common origin: the defection of Mexican elite military personnel in 1999.
Because of their preparation, methods of operation and equipment, these two criminal groups can only be dealt with effectively through military operations. BBC.
The crime and violence are considered to be mainly drug-related, however, drug smuggling is not the only criminal activity in Mexico. According to experts, the powerful drug cartels are now taking part in other “business” as extortion, kidnapping and other wrongful conducts.
Moreover, another big problem is corruption among law-enforcement bodies. One reason why the government has deployed the army and navy so extensively is that it feels the police cannot be trusted. Drug cartels with massive resources at their disposal have repeatedly managed to infiltrate the underpaid police, from the grassroots level to the very top. Efforts are under way to rebuild the entire structure of the Mexican police force, but the process is expected to take years.
That is the situation in Mexico. People live frightened and in despair. If the night gets darker just before dawn, no Mexican has the guarantee he/she will live enough to see that dawn, and the darkness of night only makes the sounds of gunfire and death even more terrifying.
November 9th, 2010.
 Reporters sans frontières