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Mexico, Cartels and Other Drugs

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For countless years the drug trade between the United States and Mexico has been the dominating factor in their relationship. The unparalleled demand for drugs created by the U.S. and Mexico's ability to meet it has incurred irrevocable harm on both countries and influenced heavily the fate of Mexican-Americans and Chicanos across the country.

Mexico traffics over 90% of the cocaine coming into the United States and is the greatest trafficker of all other major drugs in the U.S. as well (CRS Report). According to the United Stated Department of Justice, the wholesale earnings for the illegal trade is anywhere from $13.6 Billion to $48.4 Billion every year (CRS Report). Drug cartels operate almost unencumbered across all of Mexico, with over nine major cartels.

Perhaps the most obvious consequence of the Mexican drug trade is the violence crippling the country. Drug related violence has only escalated in recent years. Since Felipe Calderón took Mexican presidency in 2006 over an estimated 40,000 drug-trade related casualties have been suffered in Mexico (NY Times). Over 15 thousand of those took place in 2010, almost an 800% increase from four years prior with soldiers deployed from the Mexican military sent to deal with drug cartels (NY Times).

The drug war has taken a great toll on the liberties of Mexicans. On the subject of drug cartels, President Calderon said "This has become an activity that defies the government, and even seeks to replace the government. They are trying to impose a monopoly by force of arms, and are even trying to impose their own laws" who also described cartel dominated towns having fees and taxes leveed on them by the cartels (MSNBC). Not only are the citizens directly extorted by cartels but they also suffer loss of freedom at the increasingly police-like state that has resulted from measures taken to stop these cartels. Policy and responsibility for civilian drug control has been handed over to the military. Over 40,000 troops and 5,000 federal agents have been deployed now in President Calderón's anti-drug campaign (Ellingwood). A massive number of human rights violations have been claimed against the military in their actions against drugs, including extrajudicial execution, illegal arrests and detention, torture, fabrication of evidence, and even rape. Human rights for Mexicans have deteriorated at the hands of both sides. An imbalance of has been put in the hands of the executive branch of the Mexican government and impunity has suffered for it.

The drug war has also been the primary propagator of corruption throughout Mexico. With bribed officials and police departments the citizens very often cannot rely on the police to do their duty or act in their interest. Drug cartels buy out officers, making it dangerous to provide information to the authorities about drug activities. Victor Gerardo Garay Cadena, the chief of the Federal Police in Mexico, and Noé Ramírez Mandujano and José Luis Santiago Vasconcelos (both chiefs of the Office for Special Investigations on Organized Crime) for instance, were all high profile officials arrested in recent years for bribery. Corruption contributes significantly to the loss of security and rights of Mexicans.

And on the northern side of the issue? The drug trade is in large enabled using arms sold and trafficked from the United States. American citizens are sometimes paid or forced into making firearm straw purchases for drug cartels (Ross). So the deadly cycle is perpetuated- the U.S. demands drugs and Mexico provides; the cartels demand firearms to run their operations and the U.S. provides. In the end it's the Mexican population that loses out. The U.S. is not without casualty, however. In 2008 at least 19 American deaths and were attributed to drug cartel actions. Between 2009 and 2010 that number jumped to 92 American deaths. Cartel killings, kidnappings and home invasions on American soil have seen a spike in incidence into the hundreds (Caldwell).

Born from the drug trade culture are "narcocorridos" or drug ballads. Narcocorridos admire criminal acts such as murder, extortion, torture, drug trafficking, illegal immigration and glorify drug cartels. First appearing in the 1930s, they have been popular throughout certain cultures of Mexico, and have even made their mark on Mexican-American society (e.g. Chicano Gangster Rap). Narcocorrido musicians themselves have been the subject of violence in the midst of the Mexican drug war. Among these include the popular Valentín Elizalde, Sergio Gómez, and Fabian Ortega Pinon, causing many in the genre to postpone concerts following



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