The U.S. creates Mexico’s drugs trade problems

The drugs cartels in Mexico are the cause of thousands of deaths. The US most of the time however simply washes its hands of the problem although it is a key reason for the problem in the 1st place. Hillary Clinton's comments go some way to acknowledging this.

The U.S. creates Mexico’s drugs trade problems

Yes because... No because...

Demand

It is the rich US that creates the demand for drugs in the first place. Without this demand the price of drugs would be low and the profits of drugs trafficing through Mexico to the USA would dissapear. Drugs are a problem that is best delt with from the perspective of reducing demand. Hillary Clinton accepted this when she said “Our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade”. However the US' answer to the drugs problem has so far been the 'war on drugs' concentrating massive investment on trying to reduce supply.

Mexico has its own problems with drugs consumption so the demand problem can’t all be blamed on the US. Mexico City's former chief of police, Gertz Manero said there are now 4.5 million crimes a year committed in Mexico. "90% of those are stealing or are related to stealing. And 90% of those are for less than 8,000 pesos (about US$727). Mostly this is for drugs." Unemployment due to liberalisation of the economy has led to mass drug consumption.[Leslie Evans, 'Electoral Democracy Has Yet to Shake Mexico's Corrupt Bureaucracy', UCLA International Institute, 3/16/2005, http://www.international.ucla.edu/article.asp?parentid=21863

The U.S. creates Mexico’s drugs trade problems

Yes because... No because...

Guns go the other way

While the US complains about the Mexicans inability to stop drugs flowing north the USA seems equally unable to stop guns and weapons flowing south into Mexico. As Clinton says “Our inability to prevent weapons from being illegally smuggled across the border to arm these criminals causes the deaths of police officers, soldiers and civilians.” Clinton argues that one problem is that the bad guys outgun the law enforcement officers and so is supplying Mexico with better equipment such as night vision goggles,[http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/26/world/americas/26mexico.html?ref=politics]] however at least in the short term this is likely to mean more violence. So long as the cartels are able to easily buy guns then the problem will not be solved, an arms race between the cartels and authorities would not be good for mexico or the US.

To counter this problem the US has been using U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers to train Mexican army commandoes. And the Marine Corps also is working on an exchange program with the Mexican Marine Corps that will include sharing experiences on urban warfare. The US also arms the Mexican armed forces to prevent them being outgunned by the gangs.[Tom Bowman, 'CIA And Pentagon Wonder: Could Mexico Implode?' NPR http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=101215537

The U.S. creates Mexico’s drugs trade problems

Yes because... No because...

focus on supply

For the last two decades the USA has been focused on the supply side of reducing the drugs trade. Making it a 'war on drugs' forces a fightback from the drugs cartels leading to gunfights and instabiliy in the countries en route. This focus on supply, or else the containment of drugs in mexico is shown by the Obama's US-Mexico boarder policy press releace that devotes a lot more space to extra boarder security to catching the drugs as they reach the US compared with one small paragraph on demand. [http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/Administration-Officials-Announce-US-Mexico-Border-Security-Policy-A-Comprehensive-Response-and-Commitment/]]

The U.S. creates Mexico’s drugs trade problems

Yes because... No because...

US deportations

A change in US immigration law in 1996 meant that non-citizens and foreign born citizens sentenced to more than a year in jail are deported. This moved the problem from the USA’s cities to cities in Central America creating new gangs that were already bound by ties created in the US. Effectively gangs created in the US thrived in central America where they were able to overwhelm the local government and spread north to Mexico and back into the USA helping create the network of gangs and drugs traffickers that plague Mexico today.[Adam Wolfe, 'Central America's Street Gangs Are Drawn into the World of Geopolitics', Power and Interest News Report, 25th Aug. 2005, http://www.pinr.com/report.php?ac=view_report&report_id=354&language_id=1
Similarly the problems in Mexico represent the success of the US in cutting of the routes through the Caribbean used previously by drugs traffickers. Colombian criminals began smuggling cocaine and heroin through the Central American isthmus and Pacific routes. Both smuggling routes led through Mexico. The successes of the war on drugs in Columbia has reduced the size of the drugs groups in Columbia reducing their ability to control the whole route to the USA making room for the Mexicans to take the middle through Central America.[Samuel Logan, ''Mexico's Internal Drug War'', 14th August 2006, http://www.pinr.com/report.php?ac=view_report&report_id=540&language_id=1

The U.S. creates Mexico’s drugs trade problems

Yes because... No because...

Weak Government

Drugs traffickers have taken over many local areas, the local government, police and even some of the army has been penetrated by the drugs traffickers. This leaves the local government unable to do anything against the traffickers. It was not the drugs traffickers who created the institutional problems that allowed the government to become penetrated in the first place; corruption, inefficient police forces and a weak judiciary were already a problem.[Laurie Freeman, ‘State of Siege: Drug-Related Violence and Corruption in Mexico Unintended Consequences of the War on Drugs, WOLA Summer report (2006), p.2. http://www.wilsoncenter.org/news/docs/State_of_Siege_WOLA.pdf

The U.S. creates Mexico’s drugs trade problems

Yes because... No because...

Fear creates a downward spiral

Once the police and local government is infiltrated it becomes very difficult to stop the violence. The gangs gain enough control and power that they can no longer be brought to heal without a massive investment by the central government. Any who do stand up to the traffickers are killed as with Alejandro Domínguez when appointed to serve as the city’s police chief of Nuevo Laredo. Domínguez made it clear that he would not negotiate with the cartels. As he was leaving his office on June 8, his first day on the job, he was ambushed and killed by gunmen.A culture of fear exists in mexico, as in other countries where the government fails to suppress gang warfare. Fear within the government and police force paralyses both into inaction Municipal and state officials insist that the problem is not theirs to solve, since drug trafficking is a federal crime, or they engage in denial, claiming that the situation is improving and that the violence will soon end. While journalists report the death and violence they fear to report on who caused them, the background or the causes of the violence; the media self-censors itself.[Freeman, siege, pp.5-7.]]

The U.S. creates Mexico’s drugs trade problems

Yes because... No because...

Decline in stability of the Federal Government

The election of Vicente Fox as president may have been a democratic triumph for ending the 70year one party rule by the P.R.I. but in terms of the effectiveness of the central government it was not a success. Fox’s National Action Party was weak in the lower house and senate so was unable to advance a legistaltive agenda. The government is weak as it cannot legislate. This reduces the ability of the Federal government to step in and sort out local problems. There has been an upsurge of social unrest of all types, not just drugs violence but protests, riots and strikes as well. [Jephraim P. Gundzik, ‘As Elections Approach, Mexico Faces Internal Instability', Power and Interest News report, http://www.pinr.com/report.php?ac=view_report&report_id=504&language_id=1

The U.S. creates Mexico’s drugs trade problems

Yes because... No because...

Economic factors

However there is always some uncertainty in the figures, using different methods you get different results. A study implies a growth rate of household income for Mexico of 4½-5½ percent per year in 1984-2006, which is substantially higher than the 2 percent implied by standard methods.[Irineu de Carvalho Filho and Marcos Chamon, ‘The Myth of Post-Reform Income Stagnation: Evidence from Brazil and Mexico’, IMF working paper, (Aug. 2008) p.27.]] If this was the case then a poor economy could not be seen as much of a factor in the increase in violence and drugs trafficking.

Declining real income drives social unrest and instability. Real incomes for workers in Mexico's manufacturing sector declined by a cumulative 2.6 percent between 1995 and 2005. It is likely that the decline in the informal economy is larger. The Government keeps a tight control over the minimum wage preventing it from rising. Although this does not affect many Mexicans directly a lot more have their wages set at a multiple of the minimum wage. At the same time there has been high unemployment and lower benefits.[Gundzik, Elections]]
In 1994-5 Mexico was hit hard by the financial crisis. The peso depreciated by 47%, inflation went up to 52% and GDP fell by 6% not reaching its 1993 level until 1997. Unsurprisingly household income fell substantially; by 31% between 1994 and 1996, those in poverty rose from 10.4% of the population to 17%[Emanuele Baldacci, Luiz de Mello and Gabriela Inchauste, Financial crises, Poverty and Income distribution, IMF Working paper, pp.20-21. http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/wp/2002/wp0204.pdf Since 1996 although mexico has experienced growth not only has it been slower than most developing countries this has been significantly cut into in real per capita terms by population growth. Mexico has large disparities in income between urban and rural areas and the gap between rich and poor has been widening. http://www.economywatch.com/world_economy/mexico/ The inequality leads people to be more willing to engage in the potentially lucrative drugs trafficking and the informal economy. Unemployment meanwhile makes them more likely to take drugs themselves as an escape.

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