Published on Monday, February 8, 2010 by Foreign Policy in Focus
Murder Capital of the World
On January 31, an armed commando unit pulled up to a house in a working-class neighborhood in
To date, 16 people are dead as more lie wounded in the local hospital. Photographs capture the concrete floors stained with blood, the bereaved families, the frightened neighbors. Local residents interviewed in the aftermath of the tragedy called the security forces "useless." Fearing to give their names, they noted  that the gunmen entered the neighborhood, hunted down the victims, and passed right by a group of soldiers in the vicinity.
"We heard a lot of shots, at first we thought they were bottle rockets, but later we heard the running and the cries of the young girls that were at the party. Then came silence and a strong odor of gunpowder," a witness reported. Residents say that even 10 hours after the murders, the crime scene had not been secured.
So far, no one knows the motive of the crime. The Washington Post reported  that Ciudad Juarez Mayor Jose Reyes put forward the preposterous hypothesis that the hit was "random."
's Drug War Mexico
The bodies of the slain teenagers and thousands of others attest to the results of this strategy. Last year,
If governments based their security strategies on hard evidence and proven results, this city would be rightly viewed as a case study in the failure of the drug war. Instead, for years the strategy has been reinforced, with worse results. Ciudad Juarez stands out as a tragic example of what happens when a black-market economy creates massive corruption and avarice, and partisan politics and special interests determine government responses.
Calderon initiated the drug war to secure the support of the armed forces following huge protests over electoral fraud. He needed to unite the country against an enemy and organized crime was growing. Since Calderon announced the offensive against organized crime soon after taking office, somewhere between 15,000 and 17,000 people have been killed. The government has deployed 50,000 troops to fight the war nationwide, racking up human rights violations and criticisms that their new domestic role violates the constitution, accelerates the downward spiral of violence, and militarizes a nation still undergoing a shaky transition from authoritarian rule.
Now public anger over the government's failure to control the violence has reached a boiling point in
The Mexican Congress has demanded that the cabinet members charged with security policy explain the failure in
However, experts like General Francisco Gallardo of the Mexican armed forces, now a human rights leader, note that the difference between the armed forces and the police is often just a change of uniform. Although some groups in
In an 2008 article for the Americas Program on the failure of Operation Chihuahua, congressman and human rights activist Victor Quintana wrote  that "Crowding soldiers into different parts of the country, far from dissuading drug dealers and their hired gunmen, exponentially increases the risk for civilians, who now have to take care on all sides: hired gunmen breaking into their daily activities, stray bullets, and human rights violations by the police and the army."
A New Strategy?
Calderon has made the most self-critical statements yet regarding the failure of his drug war. Speaking from
The same week, in its 2011 budget request, the Obama administration called for an additional $310 million for
The irony of announcing further
Creative Commons Attribution 3.0
FPIF columnist Laura Carlsen is director of the Americas Program of the Center for International Policy. The Americas Program is online at http://americas.irc-online.org/.
URL to article: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/02/08-7
Donations can be sent to the
"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs