By Edna Alcantara
MEXICO CITY – Mexico is dealing with a “national emergency” created by the surge in drug-related violence, a “tragedy” that will affect this year’s elections, several experts told Efe.
“The illness that Mexico has is weakness of the state, and organized crime is the symptom,” drug war analyst and former UN official Samuel Gonzalez told Efe.
The problem in Mexico does not have to do with the police or judges but is bigger because it is rooted in a government that is “incapable of guaranteeing the security” of the people, Gonzalez, who prosecuted drug cases in Mexico in the 1990s, said.
Drug-related violence, according to a tally by the Mexico City daily Reforma, claimed the lives of 12,182 people in 2011, up 5.17 percent from the 11,583 victims registered in 2010.
Mexico’s most violent states, according to the newspaper, are Chihuahua, with 1,925 murders; Nuevo Leon, with 1,750 murders; and Sinaloa, where 1,389 people were murdered.
The three states, along with Guerrero state, have been at the center of turf wars being waged by Mexico’s most powerful drug cartels.
Poet Javier Sicilia, who became an important leader last year of the grassroots movement against violence, said Mexico’s situation was “a tragedy.”
The death toll rose in 2011 because the government suffers from “profound weakness” in administering justice, Sicilia told Efe.
The war on drugs launched by the government just over five years ago has been plagued by a “failed strategy,” leaving more than 40,000 people dead, Sicilia said.
The “national tragedy” created by the violence will play a role in the July 1, 2012, presidential election, in which some 80 million Mexicans will be eligible to select President Felipe Calderon’s successor, Sicilia, who founded the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity after his son’s murder by drug traffickers, said.
The administration, for its part, contends that its strategy is appropriate because Mexico’s drug cartels, in the words of Calderon, represent “a clear threat to democracy” and would have gained even more power if they had not been attacked by the government.
Officials have acknowledged that drug cartels played a role in state elections, with some political parties cutting deals with criminals to win more votes, such as in the municipal elections in November in the western state of Michoacan.
The government’s policy of taking on criminal organizations is correct and Calderon has been on the right track even though “his strategy is incomplete,” political analyst Federico Berrueto told Efe.
The government has not provided figures on the drug-related violence since January 2011, when it issued a report that put the death toll from Dec. 1, 2006, when Calderon took office, to December 2010 at 34,612.
A group of activists asked the International Criminal Court on Nov. 25 to charge Calderon with crimes against humanity.
Last year ended “as one of the most violent in the modern history” of Mexico, the secretary-general of the leftist Party of the Democratic Revolution, or PRD, Dolores Padierna, told Efe.
The government will have to acknowledge that more than 50,000 people have died due to the errors committed in waging the war on drugs, Padierna said. EFE
Source: Latin American Herald Tribune