February 27, 2009 [LINK / comment]

Mexican drug war escalates

The dreadful news from Mexico about narco-gang violence drones on and on, numbing the senses of those few Americans who would be inclined to pay attention in the first place. In spite of enormous efforts by President Felipe Calderon to crack down on the drug lords, there are few if any signs of success. Quite the contrary, cities along the U.S. border such as Ciudad Juarez (across the Rio Grande from El Paso) remain under a virtual state of siege. Of the 6,000 drug-related murders in Mexico last year, more than 1,200 of them happened in Ciudad Juarez. The local governments and police authorities are forced to hunker down in fortified headquarters, faced with constant death threats against their family members, thereby leaving the streets wide open to the mafia. Most journalists have been intimidated into staying away or keeping silent.

The Mexican government has tried to regain the psychological edge in this brutal showdown by convening an emergency meeting of top security officials in Ciudad Juarez on Wednesday. The gesture of defiance against the narcotraffickers is an encouraging sign, at least. For more, see CNN.com. Nevertheless, it will take a lot more resources and action to stop drug trafficking and consumption on the northern side of the border before the situation in Mexico turns around. Unfortunately, the drug and border security issue is a low priority for President Obama, who is focusing on preventing financial collapse and stimulating the U.S. economy.