March 27, 2009 11:57:07 pm
Why is it suddenly in the news?
Over 2007-2008 the number of gang war related deaths has drastically increased; 2008 saw roughly 7000 dead. Further,the numbers include those who have been victimised on the other side of the border,hence influencing US policy. The infiltration of the drug gangs is evident at all levels of society; once regarded as mules for Columbias cocaine cartels,the Mexican druglords have themselves developed a highly organised and structured drug industry. Sharing a porous 2,000-mile border with the US it traffics 90 per cent of all cocaine that enters US territory. It is also the largest provider of marijuana and methamphetamine. The most brutal scenes of the drug war was visible from El Paso,Texas in the bordering town of Juarez; the most high profile arrest being that of former commissioner of the National Institute to Combat Drugs General Jesús Gutiérrez Rebollo. He was charged due to the tacit protection he offered to the leader of the Juarez Cartel.
How have the cartels been able to gain such power and influence?
This can be accredited to the negligence of the former ruling party,the Institutional Revolutionary Party. Over the years,the drug traffickers have infiltrated the police and top levels of the government. Reform of the police and anti-drug trafficking policies were put into place only after the election of President Felipe Calderon in December 2006. He was elected on an anti-crime campaign and has displayed his commitment: dispatches of 40,000 soldier and 5,000 federal police officers have been sent to hot spots. However,there are those who are sceptical,the police is poorly paid,ill-trained and poorly educated,and bribes are rampant amongst the bureaucracy.
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The Obama administration has made Mexico a top priority,what changes can we expect?
The Obama administration has unveiled its border plan whereby it will place 1000 federal agents along the border. The patrolling forces will be better equipped than any of those seen in the past with new gadgets such as X-ray technologies which can detect cash and guns. Further,Obama will continue to follow the terms set by the Merida Initiative. The administration recognises that the drug trade is harnessed to demand for drugs on the other side of the border. Therefore,it will follow the policies set up by the Bush government and work in cooperation with the Mexican government towards curtailing the sale of weapons from the US: this is the primary goal of both the governments. The purchase of guns is illegal in Mexico and it is through the profits raised by the sale of drugs that the cartels continue to exist and exercise power. Congress had appropriated $465 million for the first phase of the Merida Initiative.
Hillary Clinton has concluded her Mexican trip today,what are her views?
The Secretary of State has taken a firmer approach towards Mexico than her recent predecessors by saying that the US drug policies have failed Clearly what weve been doing has not worked. She has stated that the Obama administration will appropriate a further $66 million to the train the Mexican police.Further,the administration will work towards a strategy for the entire region in order to ensure that the drug trade is curtailed and does not merely move location.
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