Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Mexican Drug War Zone--a citizen-report, from Texas USA, March 2009

Photo Caption: Miguel Tovar / Associated Press Federal police arrive in Mexico’s most violent city, just across the border from El Paso, as part of a security buildup that includes thousands of additional soldiers.

Tracking the drug war is like following a moving target, if you'll forgive the pun implicit in a weaponry analogy. Constant change makes it hard to get a fix on truth. These bullet points show how the drug wars (there are three of them!) affect life in El Paso-Juárez this month:
  • Nearly 11,000 soldiers and federal agents now patrol the streets of Juarez in a massive and unprecedented show of force aimed at drug cartels and hit squads (as well as corrupt members of the police). Mexican authorities want to restore peace to the beleaguered battleground border city, the gateway of the lucrative Juárez--El Paso smuggling corridor. Nearly 2,000 people, including several police officers and commanders, have been killed in Juarez in the past year.

  • Further militarization: The Juárez mayor appointed a retired Mexican army general as the new secretary of public safety. An infantry colonel with the Mexican army is the brand new police chief. And the federal government sent a national defense department official to Juárez as the public safety adviser.

  • The Mexican army took even further control of Juárez by disarming 380 transit police and taking over their department. Now armed soldiers accompany (unarmed) traffic police on patrol. Meanwhile transit police undergo exams intended to weed out corruption.

  • The Mexico attorney general's office loaned about 20 bulletproof vehicles to the Juárez city government for the heads of the police department. Last month the police operations director was assassinated when ambushed in a regular patrol truck.

  • The death toll has slowed. Three hundred homicides, or about five a day, occurred in Juárez in the first two months of 2009. But this month the death toll has fallen to one or two a day. However, the border is braced for the drug cartels' retaliation. When will that shoe drop?

  • We look to top leadership. President Barack Obama plans to discuss the increasing drug violence with Mexican President Felipe Calderón next month during his first visit to Mexico. Meanwhile Calderón offered a $2 Million reward for information leading to the arrest of 24 top drug lords.

  • Public Awareness. When I first began issuing these reports, readers reacted with surprise, expressing little awareness of the severity of the problem. Now mainstream media cover the story. I mention two notable recent stories: CBS's 60 Minutes "The War Next Door" brought the situation onto the US's longstanding popular news magazine program. A lesser known Democracy Now program, "Obama Signals Readiness to Further Militarize Drug War...," wove a layer of excellent commentary and analysis into the coverage. Both links are worthy of your time.

The words of Bruce Berman, El Paso resident/artist/author sum up the heroism of the common person in Juárez, as they continue undaunted:

"One thing for sure: Juárez has got the stiffest upper lip I have ever seen. Defiant. Life goes on. No matter how this ends, life goes on, and, it will end. Juárez is defiant. Desafiante.

Juárez will not end."


Links to Previous Citizen Reports in this series: Early January 2009; Later January 2009; Early February 2009; Late February 2009.


Randal Graves said...

So close, yet so far. If this was happening in, say, Phoenix, on a daily basis, the drug issue would get even more play than it is now, and the more that it's not out of sight, out of mind, the closer we are to an actual adult policy about this clusterfuck.

eProf2 said...

A very comprehensive and concise picture of the events and tragedies of Juarez. Thank you. Will this be your last report from Texas? If so, I wish you safe travels to Iowa. Maybe by the time you return at the end of the year things will have improved. Let's hope so!

an average patriot said...

I put something together on this for all voices tomorrow. I am sick of hearing Mexico's drug war is spilling over into the US.
We have been fighting a drug war for a hundred years. A hundred years war! it has engulfed Mexico.
We started this and we can end it!

Übermilf said...

I want to say a lot but I'm having trouble putting it into words.

For now, I want to thank you and your friends who are keeping tabs on this and telling the world about it.

Dusty said...

Thanks for this wonderful writeup B.E., its very comprehensive. I am putting it up on Sirens. :)

Border Explorer said...

Randal, what I love about you is that you really understand.

eProf, hey! I hope to get one or two more of these in before I leave (May). Yeah, what will I return to in November?

Jim, I'm sick of that, too! It's our guns and our hunger for drugs that fuel their nightmare.

Übermilf, Hon, thank YOU for reading it. I know it is not sweetness and light. Or a laugh a minute.

Dusty, it is an honor...and you spoil me by putting it up for me. Thanks a bunch!

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

I thought of you tonight when the topic of the drug war came up in the president's press conference. I'm glad you posted more about it.

Brother Tim said...


You will not stop their flow with guns, it only fuels the flames.

Border Explorer said...

Ruth, thanks for saying that. I didn't watch the conference, so I'll need to read coverage of what Obama said about the drug war ASAP.

Brother Tim, welcome to Border Explorer! Great comment. I guess neither Gandhi nor MLK taught us anything.

an average patriot said...

It sounds like they are taking the right steps! They really have to clean house in both the military and the Government. They need ears within that only report to the absolute top if he is clean. They can do this but ... oh never mind you know. Take care, stay safe!