The Real War in Mexico


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by ONeil Shannon

The drug war in Mexico has escalated reaching their peak in recent time. Shannon (2009) has expressed various arguments concerning this war.  One argument made in this article is that drug war in Mexico has been brought about by democracy. According to this article, previous long and undemocratic rule by the PRI had created a peaceful coexistence between drug traffickers and government officials. This led to the thriving of the trade in Mexico. After, the defeat of the PRI and the onset of democratic rule in Mexico, the partnerships between drug lords and government officials were broken. The end of the authoritative and close system of government and the entry of an open but weak democratic system disrupted the symbiotic relationship that existed between government official and the drug traders. The drug traffickers had to resort to force in order to ensure continuation of their trade.

The drug wars in Mexico were not limited between the drug trader and the government officials but also prevailed amongst the drug traders themselves. The drug traders were fighting to gain control of the drug supply system. The wars between the drug trader themselves are said to have been fueled by the change of guard. After the end of the PRI regime reigning drug lord lost their influence because their support from government officials had ended. Other drug traffickers came up to challenge them for the control of the lucrative drug industry in Mexico.

According to the article, the USA has also played part to the drug wars situation in Mexico. The USA weak fire arm control policies have failed to control proliferation of fire arms from the US into Mexico, forming the biggest fire arm supply base for the drug traffickers in Mexico. Through the United States, Mexican drug gangs are able to access various weaponry tools including the most sophisticated. In addition, the United States has been accused of applying border control procedures discriminatively. While traffic heading into the USA are heavily scrutinized to ensure that drugs do not enter into the US, the same treatment is not accorded to traffic heading into Mexico. This factor has made proliferation of fire arms into Mexico easier.

This article also state existence of a huge market for the narcotic drugs in the USA as another possible reason for unending drug wars in Mexico. The USA has a large number of drug users and present opportunity for drug dealers. Mexico having a common border with the US has become an important entry point for drug traffickers into the US market and therefore escalating the drug situation in Mexico.

This article has also faulted the Mexican and the US ways of combating the drug wars. The article claims that the United States and Mexico are using short term measure to quell the drug situation such as use of army and border control. As these operations lead to capture and elimination of drug king pins, remaining younger trafficker from the enforcement arm of the drug cartel take over and become more ruthless in the fight for control. There exist more effective and long term solution to this problem. One of them is strengthening democratic institutions in Mexico. Drug dealers have able to muscle and challenge the existing institutions because they are weak. Strengthening the democratic systems will ensure that the drug cartels are weakened and that the government has enough structures to deal with the drug situation.

Another long term solution proposed in this article is reducing the drug market in the United States. The United States provide a lucrative market for the narcotic drugs, a factor that has contributed to the situation in Mexico. In order to solve this issue, the US government needs to stop the drug market in the country. The article suggest that a dollar used in the treatment and rehabilitation of drug patients in the USA is more effective than a dollar used to fund military operations against drug traffickers.

Another action that the United States needs to take in the fight against this drug menace is to target illicit funds. The drug traders have access to drug money from the US market. This money contributes to their power and muscle for terrorizing Mexican authorities. By united states targeting to cut this illicit fund and ensure that it does not reach the drug lords, it will have managed to weaken the drug cartels.

Evidence and Statistics of the Drug Menace in Mexico

The drug war has become the biggest dilemma for the Mexican government. According to Blake (2008) corruption which enabled drug traders to bribe police and other official and fear of drug cartel made drug trafficking a thriving trade in Mexico. With the coming of an open democratic system this problem has become difficult to eliminate. Weak structures still exist and official from previous regimes still receive bribes from the drug cartels. Attempt by President Calderon to use force to clear out this drug menace has ended up escalating the drug problem instead. According to Blake (2008) new strategies need to be formed as the current approaches seem to be failing.

The view by Shannon (2009), that United States weak arms control policies have contributed to the unfolding drug wars situation in Mexico has been supported by Levin (2000) article recorded in Los Angels Time. According to Levin thousands of fire arms cross the border from the united states into Mexico fueling the drug situation in that country. Arms dealings exist between illegal drug traffickers in the US and drug traders in Mexico.  According to Levin such dealings have been perpetuated by weakness in existing laws. The fire arm laws have been weakened by limited man power, existence of loop holes and by federal sentencing guidelines which treat arms trafficking as relatively minor offence. Another article from Serrano (2008) narrates on how guns from the US are equipping drug cartels in Mexico. According to Serrano, ammunitions and high powered weapons are flowing across border into Mexico virtually unchecked. This article also reveals that 90% of guns seized after raids on drug cartel are traced back to the United States.

The view by Shannon (2009) that drug wars are threat to futures democracy of Mexico has been enhanced by Murray (2010) who state that the drug cartels aim is to weaken the democratic system and bring back the system that ensured survival of the drug trade for decades. This article came at a time when Mexicans were preparing for a poll and reports various attacks on innocent civilians by drug cartels. Murray terms such attacks by the drug traffickers as attempt to scatter the democratic process in the country by causing panic, terror and state of anarchy.

According to the Washington Post (2010), Mexico will need more support from the United States if it is to win the war against drug trafficking. Every measure taken by the Mexican government to fight drug cartels is being retaliated by the cartel. The weak democratic structures and government mechanism are finding it difficult to deal effectively with threat presented by the drug cartels. The post states that Mexico will need a lot of perseverance and support from the United States to win the drug war. According to the post United States is assisting less in the fight against drug trafficking than it is contributing to its thriving through demand for drugs and supply of gun.

According to Armentano (2009), the Mexican drug trade is being fueled by the US multibillion dollar narcotic industry. According to Armentano article, the US marijuana market alone is worth over $ 113 billion per annum. Majority of this vast amount finds its way to Mexican drug cartels since Mexico forms the back of the US marijuana supply. Armentano (2009) adds that failure by the American and Mexican authority to quell the drug trade and the surging violence has been brought about by the use of the same old solutions to respond to this problem. US and Mexican efforts of using force to fight drug cartels has been accused of fueling the drug violence and not abating it. This strategy has also been faulted in the article terming as serving to remove few drug lords that are replaced almost immediately by the vast networks of the drug cartel.

Many solutions have been suggested for countering the drug violence in Mexico. Shannon (2009) has advocated for strengthening of democratic systems in Mexico, targeting illegal money and cutting drug demand. Blake (2008) on the other hand, has come up with a more controversial solution. According Blake the way forward to this problem is to decriminalize drugs. When soft drugs such as marijuana are decriminalized their value in the market will go down reducing their lucrative nature to drug traffickers and therefore reducing the trade.

Assessment of the Article

Fighting drugs trade is usually one the most difficult fight for a country to get involved in. Several countries such as Columbia and Cuba can attest to this. However, the country that is facing a rough time trying to deal with the drug trafficking business is Mexico. The article The Real War in Mexico by Shannon (2009) has provided a deep insight of the drug violence situation in Mexico. According to Shannon, Mexico sharing border with the worlds largest market for narcotic drugs has been the primary reason for the existence of the current drug problem. This view by Shannon is very true as facts and figures indicate that the United States forms a lucrative market for illegal drugs. Since, security at other entry point into the United States such as seaports and airports has been beefed up, Mexico has become a viable trafficking point for drugs destined for the United States.

Shannon also made the observation that the changing system of governance has played a role in the escalation of drug related violence in the country. According to Shannon (2009) previous regime had encourage the thriving of the drug trade due a symbiotic relationship that existed between the drug cartels and Mexican government officials. However, the ending of that regime broke this peaceful coexistence giving rise to a serious conflict between the incoming government and drug cartels. This observation is also valid as it is very clear that the drug cartel had been very deeply entrenched into the Mexican society. This situation will not have existed if the previous regime was serious on fighting the drug problem in the country.

Shannon also argues that the open system of government that is currently present has weakened the government power to control the drug menace. Unlike the previous pri regime which used coercion and force to instill law and order, the existing democratic system of governance has to follow procedures such investigations and trial which Shannon categorically states that they lack capacity to handle magnitude of crimes such as the current drug situation in the country. However, this view may be a bit contrary to the situation that exists on the government. The current government under president Calderon has shown no intention of using conventional ways to combat the drug cartel. The government has used the army to crack down drug cartel but what is limiting the success of the government effort is its lack of intelligence to locate key figures of drug cartels and to get information about intended retaliation attacks by the drug cartels on innocent civilians.

Shannon (2009) in her article has proposed several solutions to solve this drug violence. One of them is the strengthening of the democratic system. This solution might work as it will strengthen the Mexican governing structures giving them the capacity to fight the well organized drug cartel. Strengthening democratic system will also ensure loopholes used by cartels to escape justice, such as corruption, are eliminated thereby enhancing the wars against drug trafficking.

Shannon also proposes that more cooperation and partnership need to be established between the United States and Mexico if this war against the drug trade is to succeed. This proposition is also valid since from the statistics we learn that the United States is largely responsible for the prevailing drug situation in Mexico. The United States has provided the demand required for the thriving of the drug trade and the weapons used by the cartel to fight Mexican government law enforcers. Therefore, it is very valid to expect the United States to be in the forefront in aiding Mexico to fight this war on drug trafficking and drug violence.


Armentano (2009), How to End Mexico’s Deadly Drug War, retrieved on February 7, 2011, from


Blake (2010), Drug Decriminalization in Mexico, retrieved on February 7, 2011, from


Levin (2000), Corrupt Dealers Expose Weakness in Gun Laws, Los Angeles Times, retrieved on February 7, 2011, from


Serrano (2008), Guns from the US Equip Drug Cartel, Los Angeles Times, retrieved on February 7, 2011, from


Shannon (2009), The Real War in Mexico, USA, Foreign Affairs


Washington Post (2010), Mexico Needs More U.S. Help in Drug Wars, retrieved on February 7, 2011, from

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