Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The U.S.'s Unstated Role in the Mexican Drug Wars

A lot of people, in the media and elsewhere, have been talking about the effects the exploding violence in Mexico's "drug wars" may have (and already are having) on the U.S., but not a lot of people are talking about the ways U.S. domestic policy decisions have affected the drug wars. The NY Times/MSNBC have a great report up on gun smuggling that's worth watching in its entirety (warning: graphic images), in which they discuss (among other things) the effects of the American gun trade on the Mexican drug wars. Specifically, that 95% of the weapons used in the drug wars in Ciudad Juarez are made in America and illegal in Mexico. Thanks to the Republican Congress's lifting the ban on assault weapons in 2004, "anybody with a driver's license and a clean record" can get these weapons, and they're making their way into Mexico, leading to the escalating violence and body counts.

All of the talk in the U.S. of how the violence "might spill over the border into the U.S." is ignorant in its one-sidedness. The border isn't a one-way road where things and people come from Mexico to the U.S. As this report demonstrates, while we may be worried about how violence might spill over from Mexico, we've conveniently forgotten how our weapons and violence have spread from the U.S. into Mexico. Until we acknowledge this and work to make these guns more difficult to get in the U.S. or elsewhere, things like this will continue to happen, and Mexico may end up suffering even more for our policy decisions.