Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns

Home | Contact us | Search
Our mission | MOGC publications | Staff members | Our partners | Contact us
Africa | Asia | Middle East | Latin America | United Nations |
War is not the answer | Arms control/proliferation | U.S. military programs/policies | Security | Alternatives to violence
Maryknoll Land Ethic Process | Climate change | GMOs | Water | U.S. energy policy | Earth Charter |
Trade/Investment | Foreign debt | Millennium Devel. Goals | Corporate accountability | Int'l financial institutions | Work | Economic alternatives
Indigenous peoples | Migrants | Children | Women | People with HIV/AIDS
Educational resources | Contact policymakers | Links | MOGC publications |
Subscribe | NewsNotes archive

Mexico: Drug wars fuel violence
NewsNotes November-December 2009

The following article is written by Cecilia Sinohui, an intern with the MOGC.

For over two decades, U.S. and Mexican administrations have been fighting a “war on drugs,” characterized by a brutality that has resulted in 7,000 deaths during this past year alone.

While most of the participants in the violence are men, primarily women are used as “mulas” (mules, or couriers) to transport the drugs from one country to the other. But if a woman fails to deliver the drugs for any reason either she is murdered or her family is attacked. If she is caught by legal authorities in the U.S., she receives a harsh sentence and is separated from her family for long periods of time.

Femicide also continues in Mexico at a horrifying rate. The situation has improved slightly but disappearances and murders of women continue at an alarming rate. Human rights activists are deeply concerned that Chihuahua’s Attorney General Arturo Chávez, who led the investigations of that state’s femicide crimes at their height (in the 1990s) has recently been named by President Felipe Calderon and confirmed by the Senate as Attorney General of Mexico. According to the Chicago Tribune (Sept. 25), “More than 350 women were slain in the city during a 15-year period starting in 1993. Critics said Chavez failed to properly investigate, and they accused Chihuahua authorities of torturing suspects and falsifying evidence.”

Of increasing concern are the recent attacks at drug rehabilitation centers. Many program participants are former cartel members, committed to turning their lives around. They are attacked by current gang members who worry that once clean from drugs, the former members will turn them in. This has resulted in mass attacks of drug rehab centers where unarmed men and women, patients and nurses are the victims of shootings.

U.S. government officials can take important measures to decrease the violence and actually address the drug issue. The Obama administration made a significant decision to withhold the Merida Initiative funds, a $1.4 billion deal between the U.S., Mexico and Central America until Mexico addresses its high rate of human rights violations.

The U.S. should also consider how the funds marked for Mexico are used. For instance, the infamous Zeta cartel is known for recruiting young men who were former or current members of the military. This means some members of the Mexican military become members of cartels. Only $73.5 million of the Merida Initiative funding is required to be used for judicial reform, institution-building, human rights and rule-of-law issues. More money should be directed toward these areas.

But the U.S. also must address its own demand for drugs. Mexico may be the largest trafficker of drugs but the U.S. is the largest consumer. Taking measures to decrease the demand for drugs in the U.S., through educational programs and rehabilitation centers, would help to decrease the violence on the border.

Witness for Peace Merida Initiative fact sheet

About us | Privacy Policy | Legal  |  Contact us
© 2010 Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns