Since 1992, more than 870 journalists have been killed around the world. In the past 19 years, journalists have been killed in the most impoverished, financially imbalanced, politically stressed nations in the world. However, a large portion of these deaths, over almost 10 percent, have occurred in a nation that receives over 150,000 United States citizens across its border every day, and more than one million United States tourists every year.
Just to the south, in one of the more developed nations in the Western Hemisphere, Mexico is fighting a war against organized crime that makes the Prohibition conflicts look like street fights against petty thieves with slingshots. More than $40 billion worth of narcotics make their way through the country every year, all of which is consumed by ready and waiting American consumers.
The United States also throws billions of dollars a year to aid Mexico’s efforts in the reinvigorated War on Drugs, which is claiming hundreds of civilian, military, and police lives every year. Between the rising use of illegal narcotics by Americans, and the easy access that the violent cartels have to weapons, the border between America and Mexico has become as dangerous as the 38th parallel.
Now, a nation that used to bring in billions, and a large portion of their GDP, from tourism, is being put on severe travel warning lists in many developed nations. Not to mention, the cartels have corrupted governments on all levels, leaving the Mexican civilians without a place to put their faith. Troubling, since hundreds of civilians are killed each year due to cartel violence in the country.
In fact, in cities from Acapulco to Guadalajara, daily confrontations erupt between the cartels and the police. Just last September, cartel drug runners and Acapulco police clashed in the middle of the city, turning the once iconic tourist city into a war zone. Automatic weapon fire from AK-47’s and rocket powered grenade launchers took the city by storm for hours, leaving dozens of innocent civilians, police, and army militants dead.
It’s hard to say how to solve the underlying problem here. It’s a complicated situation. It requires more than the aid in military effort, which is obviously doing about as much harm as good. It means feeding the factors that have lead to the evolution of organized crime in the country. Mexico is one of the most impoverished nations on the planet, with just as much poverty as third-world countries in eastern Africa. Many are forced into situations to work for cartels just to feed their families. And much like the American mafia, once you’re in, you can never leave.
Mexico needs aid that will help it. As of now, 96 percent of U.S. aid to the country goes to the War on Drugs. If poverty is what allowed the cartels to gain traction in the country, then the only way to close the bleeding hole in Mexico’s defenses is by ridding the country of the destitute poverty that has plagued it for the past two decades. It means dedicating resources and efforts to developing the agrarian based economy so that the poor citizens can fend for themselves through legitimate means. Right now, this problem only exists in areas throughout Mexico, but, if left unattended, it could develop into something much more dangerous. And as we fight our own problems at home, it’s time to ask, do we really need a coked-out drug lord armed with an automatic assault rifle as a neighbor to the south?
Kevin Beerman is a Featured Blogger for Mobilize.org’s The Millennial Report. Beerman is a senior at Francis Howell North High School in St. Louis. He has worked with several organizations in the past, including the Red Cross, Salvation Army, The Mission Continues and other local organizations. In college, he plans on studying law and political science, and wants to pursue a career in politics when he is older. Megan Emme is the New Media Coordinator at Mobilize.org and runs their blogging program, The Millennial Report. Megan is a Junior at San Francisco State University and also works as the SF Regional Coordinator for the Revolution Hunger Campaign. She hopes to pursue a career empowering young people to advocate for themselves as well as make a difference in their communities.
Megan Emme is the New Media Coordinator at Mobilize.org and runs their blogging program, The Millennial Report. Megan is a Junior at San Francisco State University and also works as the SF Regional Coordinator for the Revolution Hunger Campaign. She hopes to pursue a career empowering young people to advocate for themselves as well as make a difference in their communities.