Drug war’s body count still rising

Freedom New Mexico

The news that at least 15 people were killed in an early morning gunbattle in Tijuana, making it one of that border city’s bloodiest days for violent crime, was shocking enough.

The shootings are still mildly mysterious in that Tijuana authorities still haven’t said much. But it appears that two factions of the Arellano Felix drug cartel took out their disagreements on one another with rifles and machine guns.

Sadly, as violent as this battle was, it almost seems like a blip in Baja California’s recent history of drug-war-related violence. Northern Baja has become Mexico’s most violent state, with 400 gangland-style murders in 2007. More than 2,500 people were killed in all of Mexico in 2007 in drug turf wars.

Some commentators have tried to spin this bloodshed as evidence of success in Mexico’s latest violent forays in the war on (some) drugs.

“We wouldn’t see so much bloodshed if the Mexican government were more complicit with these organizations and just letting them have their way,” said David Shirk of the Trans-border Institute at the University of San Diego. Presumably, without so many corrupt government officials on the take and available to mediate disputes, the only recourse for the traffickers is the gun.

This is a shortsighted effort to see the bright side of a policy marked by unremitting failure and continuing violence. Every Mexican president has promised to get serious about Mexico’s drug-trafficking problems and the corruption of police and other government officials that go along with it. Every new president starts bravely. And every president has failed – and will fail so long as demand in the United States for certain illicit drugs is strong.

President Felipe Calder