Sunday, February 28, 2010

Spreading Mexican Violence

The narcoviolence in Mexico has begun spreading to Oaxaca.

Although most Americans see Mexico as an unvaried entity, in fact the violence has been extremely localized. Large parts of Mexico remain almost totally untouched. Oaxaca is one of those. But in recent days, two bad killings have taken place, including a head dumped on a major tourist beach in Puerto Escondido. The story is in Spanish, but here's a brief mention in the Times.

I wonder if the drug gangs will eventually start targeting tourists, or at least tourist centers like Cancun. There's been a couple of isolated incidents, but nothing major. If so, it could really undermine the Mexican economy and send Mexico on a Colombia-like path. Of course, the drug lords could be invested enough in the legal Mexican economy that they don't want this to happen.

But we have to ask ourselves what if anything the Mexican government will do to halt this violence. Despite President Felipe Calderon's crackdown on the drug lords, little if any headway has been made. The government has done nothing to correct the poverty that makes gangs so attractive to young men, they don't pay the police enough to make bribes undesirable, and the government has no vision except to crack heads.

Of course, the United States could do two things. First, it could make marijuana legal. It wouldn't end the drug wars, but it would undermine their profits significantly. Really, it's hard to see enough of a cocaine market in the U.S. for a non-producing state to devolve into civil war. Second, we could make guns much harder to buy. That'll never happen, because we have a national freak out any time the words "gun control" are mentioned. But over 90% of the guns owned by the cartels come from the U.S.