Krauze on Mexico’s drug war

Enrique Krauze, possibly the best Mexican historian and the editor of the excellent Letras Libres magazine, has an Op-Ed in today’s New York Times discussing the current wave of drug violence in Mexico and the way it is perceived north of the border:

(…) While we bear responsibility for our problems, the caricature of Mexico being propagated in the United States only increases the despair on both sides of the Rio Grande. It is also profoundly hypocritical. (…)

I tend to paint a caricature of Mexico in this blog, but in recent times too many people have asked me if my country is as bad as the news here make it seem. It is certainly not, and Krauze’s piece is a good summary of the reasons.

About Jorge Aranda

I'm currently a Postdoctoral Fellow at the SEGAL and CHISEL labs in the Department of Computer Science of the University of Victoria.
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8 Responses to Krauze on Mexico’s drug war

  1. Leo says:

    I don’t know the caricature that Krauze is referring to in his Op-Ed piece. Living in the US I see almost no news about Mexico (We are a little occupied cleaning up this economic mess). Most of the–alarming–news I’ve read about Mexico I’ve found on Reforma or El Universal.

    Personally, I feel worried about the country and there are some parts of Mexico that a few years ago I would’ve felt safe going to but not now.

    Do you think Mexico is as safe as it was, say, 5 years ago?

  2. Jorge says:

    I believe Mexico is less safe than it was 5 years ago. But the caricature goes beyond: it consists of treating Mexico as a “failed state”. Here’s Krauze on the topic:

    “The Joint Forces Command recently issued a study saying that Mexico — along with Pakistan — could be in danger of a rapid and sudden collapse. President Obama is considering sending National Guard troops to the Mexican border to stop the flow of drugs and violence into the United States. The opinion that Mexico is breaking down seems to be shared by much of the American news media, not to mention the Americans I meet by chance and who, at the first opportunity, ask me whether Mexico will ‘fall apart.'”

    Several Americans (and Canadians) have asked me, as well, whether Mexico is falling apart. And on two recent occasions I heard people say that they wouldn’t go to Mexico even if they were paid for it, considering its current situation. That’s the caricature.

  3. leo says:

    The only statement that has been released from the government that goes along that line is the statement by the Joint Forces’ office that states that Mexico and Pakistan are the two countries where a rapid collapse is possible. Repeat: Possible. I believe that a statement like this is justifiable and understandable. The excecutive and the legislative branches need statements like this to take action.

    The ones questioning whether Mexico is a failed state are the news networks, and these, treat equally the news coming from Mexico and the ones of Britney Spears. The news networks are the caricature and their low standards have not gone any lower.

  4. Galax says:

    The U.S. has an enormous appetite for drugs. They are mainly produced in South America and Asia, and go through Mexico to feed the final consumer market.

    The U.S. has extremely lax laws referring to the purchase not only of guns, but bazookas and you name it. The drug dealers just walk into any american border town’s gun shop where corrupt arms dealers fill their hands with machineguns and granades. No one stops them in their way back to Mexico. The U.S. goverment looks the other way. Business are business, and the Rifle Association gives plenty of votes.

    There has been drug related violence in Mexico for several years and the american media did not care at all. But now that violence is spreading to U.S. border towns Washington is finally paying attention to the problem. At last!

    President Calderon has been saying it, but Washington does not listen: Clean your house! Do something to bring down drug demand! Stop the arming of the drug lords! Jail the big fish drug leaders in the U.S. (American version says there are not any, only small neighborhood street corner dealers. Sure.)! Jail the bankers who move the drug money (I guess there are not any either, we know they all are honest gentlemen)!

    As for feeling sure and for caricatures, well, I feel much surer here in Mexico than I would attending a high school in the U.S. or going into a post office over there. – No offense.

    • yonoleo says:

      The US as a whole does have a huge appetite for drugs and something must be done about that. I agree – as a side note, from personal observation, I believe rich people in Mexico follow a very similar pattern.

      I also agree that there should be much better gun controls. Gun trafficking is a huge problem. But no, you cannot purchase bazookas in gun stores. I would prefer if your argument did not rely on exaggerations.

      Your paragraph about what Calderon has been saying to Washington feels misinformed on Calderon’s part (if indeed you were paraphrasing). To say that the US does not try to enforce the law regarding gun trafficking, drug dealing and money laundering is as much of a caricature as anyone saying that Mexico is a ‘failed state.’ – which, I repeat, no one other than the media has suggested.

      The last paragraph confuses me. I know for a fact that this were not your feelings a few years ago, when Mexico was much safer.

      Would you feel safer in any high school in Mexico compared to any one in the US? That sounds like a terrible blanket statement.

      The only reason I don’t like going to the Post Office is because it always takes a very long time. But I do not understand why would you not feel safe there. I really don’t.

      • Jorge says:

        I think the point is that Mexico as a failed state is as much a caricature as American high schools under attack from gunmen.

  5. Galax says:

    That is precisely the point. It is a matter of perceptions.

    “As for feeling sure AND FOR CARICATURES, well, I feel much surer here in Mexico than I would attending a high school in the U.S. or going into a post office over there. – No offense.”

    From the Texas University at Austin’s massacre in 1966 to Columbine in 1999 and some other massive killings in american high schools, many people outside the U.S. has a perception that danger lingers at their high schools. Facts may be otherwise, but we have a saying: You kill a dog and afterwards you will be known as ‘The dog killer’.

    The comment about danger in U.S. Post Offices dates from the 1960’s, when, in different episodes, several fired post office workers returned to their former working places to make indiscriminate killings. That perception may be fading because of FedEx and e-mail.

    And about the bazooka, this excerpt was published on march 4, 1999, in the San Francisco Chronicle:

    “Despite its recent ban on firearms sales, online auctioneer eBay yesterday had a missile, a bazooka, a rocket launcher and other military weapons up for bid. ”

  6. yonoleo says:

    Ok, maybe eBay should remove its ban on weapons given that back in 1999 when there were bazookas up for sale, Mexico was much more safe.

    Back to my point: no one in the US government has referred to Mexico as a failed state.

    Maybe Krauze and everyone else in Mexico should learn from Brangelina… Just ignore the media and stop feeding the trolls.

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