Mexican Voters Don't See Drug War Violence As a Sign of Success

Mexico's three leading presidential candidates all seem inclined to de-escalate a literalized drug war that has killed some 50,000 people since the end of 2006. President Felipe Calderón, like U.S. officials, has argued that the horrific violence is a sign of success, but that idea "has lost resonance with the public," The New York Times reports. The crackdown demanded by a U.S. government intent on stopping Americans from getting the psychoactive substances they want has had no discernible impact on drug consumption here, but it has destabilized the black market, leading to an entirely predictable increase in violence:

The focus on arresting top traffickers and extraditing them to the United States has weakened several organizations, the Mexican and American authorities have insisted, but the bloodshed caused by newly emergent and splintering groups has overwhelmed the local and state authorities and left the impression that the antidrug forces are losing ground.

"They can get some of the guys at the top, but now you've got all these other guys running around doing whatever they want, and the state and local police can't handle it," said an American official who requested anonymity because of the political sensitivities.

Not surprisingly, Mexicans resent the idea that they should accept mass murder and mayhem in their country as the price of a vain crusade to protect American drug users from themselves, and the presidential candidates recognize that political reality. Enrique Peña Nieto, the nominee of the Instititutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), says "the task of the state, what should be its priority from my point of view, and what I have called for in this campaign, is to reduce the levels of violence." Josefina Vázquez Mota, the nominee of Calderón's National Action Party, says "results will be measured not by how many criminals are captured, but by how stable and secure the communities are." Democratic Revolution Party candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador—whose slogan is "abrazos, no balazos" ("hugs, not bullets")—joins Peña Nieto and Vázquez Mota in promising to stop using the Mexican Army for drug law enforcement. A foreign policy analyst at the Mexican think tank CIDE tells the Times,  "You go ask the majority of people about a drug lab in the city, they are going to say, 'As long as they don’t kill or rob me, it doesn't matter.'" Those priorities seem pretty sensible to me. American drug warriors, of course, are alarmed.

More on Mexico's drug war violence here.

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  • JeremyR||

    Meh. The root cause of the drug war in Mexico is the prohibition in the US making it extremely profitable.

    That's not going to go away just because the Mexican government stops bothering the cartels. They'll still fight with each other and kidnap/enslave people to produce the drugs with (generally illegal aliens who come into Mexico).

    While the timeline of the supposed drug war in Mexico starts at 2006, the cartels started getting vicious much earlier than that, when they started recruiting former military into their ranks.

  • Pi Guy||

    From the AZ Repub article:

    "But while the candidates promise they will improve public safety, they are vague on the details."

    No. It's pretty simple. First, make it legal. Evey single drug on the Schedule. Everything, just legalize it.

    Second, stop trying to think of American citizens as a bunch of Winston Smiths whose only purpose is to produce for or provide service to the State. I believe that our government thinks that, if people are high, they're less productive - and they might be but employers should use that as justification for discipline or dismissal - and, therefore, they generate less tax revenue for, well, more stupid government programs.

    But the whispered argument behind closed gov office doors has to go something along the lines of "But... but... just think about how having all those LEOs, lawyers, jailors, probation officers, etc. being out of work will hurt the economy!!" Tough shit. They'll will need to find employment in a non-make-work field.

  • NotSure||

    This is a hypothetical question, if the Mexican government legalised the creation and consumption of drugs in its country what would USA do ? Clearly the only action the US government could then persue was to try and stop border crossings of smuggled drugs, this probably is impossible to achieve.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    What would the USA do if sexy alien women landed and demanded all of the overweight Irish Americans fly away with them to their home planet to watch football, drink and procreate for the rest of their lives. It doesn't matter because it's a dumb impossible question that will never happen.

  • NotSure||

    Why will it never happen ??? People are increasingly talking about it, so is the increasing tolerance to the idea.

    To compare the idea of legalising drugs to your example is stupid, since many of this drugs were once legal in the real world. It would be absurd to think that in 100 years these drugs would still be banned as opposed to the opposite.

  • General Butt Naked||

    Hell, they've already legalized possession of small amounts of all drugs. It'd only be a small step forward to up the quantities, and then the manufacture.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    It's absurd to think they're banned now, yet they are. I would love to subscribe to your chain of thought, yet that would make me have optimism and hope.

    So I will stand by my assertion: My great-great-grandchildren will be stone dead in the grave before anything is legalized.

    Assuming the singularity doesn't make all of that meaningless.

  • Ted S.||

    I mean, who would want to sleep with the Irish?

  • WWNGD?||

    Clearly the only action the US government could then persue

    You haven't been alive very long have you? There are bureaucracies in place to come up with all sorts of wasteful ideas to pursue.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    Since when did the US government give a crap what people in another country think. Or any country for that matter.

  • Spoonman.||

    It's got to end soon, because as northern Mexico becomes more and more unstable the only option for a "job" will be criminal cartels.

    The big ones have been smart enough not to dump dismembered bodies in Phoenix yet, but as there are more of them, one of them will be stupid enough to do it.

    Then the US might invade.

  • NotSure||

    If Afghanistan is any example to go by, the US occupying Mexico would probably see increased production of drugs.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    If only we could get Mexico to grow poppies - save on shipping costs!

  • NotSure||

    It might undercut the Taliban poppy profits in Afghanistan. Mexican drug cartels vs the Taliban, who would win ?

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    Oooo - it's kind of like Godzirra v Mothra or something, but probably with more "collateral" damage.

    I'm OK with that, as long as Michael Bay's not involved...

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    Mexican Voters Don't See Drug War Violence As a Sign of Success Are Smarter Than American Voters

    Fixed!

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    Also,

    "All this violence and death is a sign that ou policies are working. We must double down!"

    /typical idiot US politician and/or citizen

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  • jason||

    But the thing is the violence is still there in the mexican residence area,

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