Leaving Office Calderón Leaves Bloody Drug War Legacy, Tens of Thousands Dead and Missing

Unpublished documents from the Mexican government reveal that more than 25,000 people have gone missing in the six years since President Felipe Calderón took office.

From UPI:

Government bureaucrats, whose names were not reported, said they released the list because they are frustrated by what they said is a lack of transparency about the cases and a failure to investigate the disappearances, the Post reported.

The figures are only the latest in a catalogue of heartbreaking statistics on Mexico’s drug war. Calderón is leaving office tomorrow, and he might want to reflect on some of the results of his notorious Operation Michoacán, which began in late 2006. A small sampling:

  • At least 55,000 drug-related deaths, which, as Jorge Castañeda has noted, “is more than the number of Americans who died in Vietnam, but in a country with one-third the U.S. population.”
  • Over 7,000 bodies remain unidentified in Mexican morgues or common graves. Oftentimes the bodies are hard to identify thanks to mutilation.
  • Deaths amongst journalists have increased. Mexico is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a journalist.
  • Drug cartels continue to grow and develop, establishing their own radio stations and recruiting from classified ads.
  • Soldiers have been taking on the duties of policemen. 

Given the obvious failure of Calderón’s drug war it is hardly surprising that there have been calls from other Latin American countries, as well as a former Mexican president, for Mexico and the U.S. to reform their drug laws.

In the U.S. there is little hope for serious policy changes that will help alleviate much of the human misery in Mexico. Drug czar Gil Kerlikowske has said that federal laws will continue to be enforced despite the recent legalization of recreational marijuana in Washington and Colorado.

Despite the violence, the cost, the lack of public confidence, and the empirical evidence of better alternatives it looks like we can all expect a violent drug war to be the reality for a while longer in both Mexico and the U.S.  

Watch Nick Gillespie speak at a recent debate hosted by Intelligence Squared on drug legalization below:

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  • Hugh Akston||

    He'll come out in favor of legalization once the warm glowing warming glow of the spotlight fades.

  • Almanian.||

    You know who's REALLY happy Calderon is gone?

    Tubbs.

    /80's reset

  • ||

    "Maybe you won't even twitch."

    BLAM

    Yeah, not the same story arc, but fuck I love that show.

  • Almanian.||

    Yeah, I loved the hell out of that. That's when I started wearing Ray Ban sunglasses exclusively.

    Still do...:)

  • Almanian.||

    PS - have gone missing

    I much prefer the term "got diappeared" in cases like this. Cause that's MUCH more descriptive of what likely happened.

    "Have gone missing" sounds like the wandered off at the shopping mall. Mmmm - don't think so....

  • ||

  • sarcasmic||

    Public service announcement: Megan Fox in a bikini

    That is all

  • Almanian.||

    That's just....not a bad body. In any way.

    I'll be in my bunk...

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    The fact that she gave birth a month ago and her body still hasn't produced mammary glands doesn't disturb you?

  • Almanian.||

    no

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Maybe it's just me, but I prefer secondary sexual characteristics in my women.

  • ||

    Dude, are you fucking serious? Like, seriously?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I'm not saying she's ugly....just not my 'type'.

  • Ptah-Hotep||

    That's just....not a bad body. In any way.

    Just a personal preference, but it could have some color to it. Looks too pasty to me. YMMV.

  • Almanian.||

    picky, picky, picky!

  • JW||

    Also starring are Chris O'Dowd, Jason Segel, Charlyne Yi, John Lithgow, Lena Dunham and Albert Brooks as Rudd's loser father.

    You're dead to me.

  • sarcasmic||

    You mean there were words with the pictures? I didn't notice.

  • Darm||

    Something I don't get, and perhaps the commentariat can clarify... WHY does the gubmint insist on continuing an unpopular and expensive War on Drugs? It seems there is everything to be gained on both sides by ending it: people get access to drugs in a safe and legal manner; govt gets to steal it's share via taxes and talk about how many lives are spared. It's not like the government has never been wrong about something, and they managed to end prohibition without losing their shit.

  • ||

    Asset forfeiture, increased power at all levels of government, more and deadlier toys for police departments...what's not to love on the part of the government. The government has a lot to lose should the WoD be cancelled.

  • Restoras||

    My own thoughts:
    1) It allows all politicians regardless of affiliation to pretend to be "tough on crime" and "protecting the public from violent criminals", all for the end game of getting re-elected.
    2) It allows the same politicians to continue voting public money for law enforcement regardless of its efficacy. A grateful law enforcement community obligingly throws its support behind the pols that vote them money from the public trough.
    3) For liberals and conservatives, it gives them more opportunities to slice away more of your 2nd and 4th Amendment rights, giving the government more power, always their ultimate goal, all in the name of "public safety".

    This is why it will never, ever go away.

  • sarcasmic||

    Drugs are bad. People who use drugs are bad and lazy. There does not exist a single productive member of society who uses drugs. The children. Drugs make people stupid. All illegal drugs are addictive. If they are made legal then there will be drug users everywhere. The children. The ones that don't show up to work high will go onto welfare. It will be a zombie apocalypse of drugged up druggies shuffling down the street. The children.

    Seriously? There's an entire industry based upon the drug war. Cops arrest people who hire lawyers, go to jail, forced into treatment, put on probation, tested, and the people who get paid at every step like things the way they are.

    Then there's the fact that everyone is guilty of being a drug user until they prove their innocence by submitting to tests and searches.

    Not to mention all the loot that is stolen from people by the government.

    Then it raises the question of, if the feds have been wrong about this for generations, what else have they gotten wrong?

    That is a question that must not be asked.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    WHY does the gubmint insist on continuing an unpopular and expensive War on Drugs?

    Power. Money. Ego. Social control.

    It seems there is everything to be gained on both sides by ending it: people get access to drugs in a safe and legal manner; govt gets to steal it's share via taxes and talk about how many lives are spared.

    See Ego and Social Control. What's the point of having power if you can't use it in the most direct and brutal fashion possible?

    It's not like the government has never been wrong about something, and they managed to end prohibition without losing their shit.

    That's when other TOP MEN were wrong. These TOP MEN will get it right and create a purer, better and more moral America.

  • califernian||

    Soccer moms vote for the drug war.

  • JeremyR||

    Is it unpopular? The people of the US are able to legalize drugs any time they want, but other than 2 states, no one has. And it was pretty close in those two states.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

  • JW||

    Don't weep for Felipe. He has a nice, fat and cushy gig at Harvard waiting for him.

  • Translucent Chum||

    Wanted to pose a question - Let's say all drugs are declared legal tomorrow. What happens with these cartels? They wouldn't just fade away would they? I'm in favor of legalization, but I think the notion that these guys just head back to the barrio is wishful thinking.

  • ||

    If all drugs were legalized tomorrow, the cartels' margins would shrink significantly. The high price of drugs (and, by association, the high profits to be made cultivating, processing and selling them) is tied to the risks to producing an illegal product. High risk = high reward. Making drugs legal makes the risk of producing and selling 0. Drugs will flood the market and prices will drop. The cartels can't survive such a precipitous price decrease and will find another prohibition-related industry to get into. Any prohibited item creates a black market and the black market attracts a certain type of person. So, no, they wouldn't go away "tomorrow", but they would find what other hot item Top Men feel should be kept out of the hands of the Little People and go into that business.

    Personally, I couldn't give two shits about cartels and whether they exist or not. They pose no threat to me personally. They're not a threat to anyone who is not involved in their business. It's the governments' "war" with them that makes them violent toward average citizens. Stop the war, the employees and leaders of cartels will simply cannibalize each other.

  • Translucent Chum||

    Like the mob and running booze I guess. I wonder if they would just try to keep their territory and run little city states.

  • Translucent Chum||

    I don't really care about them either. I think it would be really interesting to see it play out in real time.

  • R C Dean||

    Cartels are in the black market business.

    After prohibition, the liquor cartels either (a) did in fact fade away or (b) concentrated on other black markets (drugs, gambling, etc.)

    Now, they can't shift into the alcohol biz (not a black market) or the gambling biz (not in any big way, at least). What black markets would be left that can throw off the kind of cash drugs do? I can't think of any.

    They could still traffic in violent crimes, of course - extortion, kidnapping, etc. But those are peanuts, in terms of cash, compared to drugs.

    Would they still exist? Sure. Would they be nearly as rich, big, powerful, and violent as they are now? I don't see why.

  • JeremyR||

    Nothing will happen to them. It's wishful thinking.

    Unless the legal drugs have zero taxes on them (which isn't gonna to happen, except maybe pot, which can be grown at home), the drug gangs will stay in business to undercut high prices.

  • ant1sthenes||

    They turn to kidnapping for ransom. But it's harder to pull off, and everyone (including your customers) wants you dead. I don't think they could survive on it, and they can't exactly just downsize (since former employees are much more of a liability), so they basically catastrophically collapse.

  • Lyle||

    It's all Calderon's fault yeah?

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