What to Make of the Violence in Mexico?

Is the murder and mayhem in Mexico bizarre and disconnected from us as we sit so far from our nation’s southern border or is it maybe the leading edge of some form of mass chaos that could crack the social earth right here?

Another 17 people gunned down in a bar in Monterey, Mexico, adding to the toll of more than 34,000 people killed since the Mexican government escalated its offensive against the illegal drug business four years ago. Read the latest report from bbc.com.  

To get a sense of perspective, I’d have to look up the statistics to see how this figure stacks up against comparable violence, organized violence, in the US during the same time. Census figures for 2008 show that there were 311 “gangland killings” and 711 “juvenile gang killings.” These categories don’t seem to match up with the slaughter in Mexico, which appears to be more like the killing sprees of the alcohol prohibition era in the United States (1920 to 1933).

TIME magazine recently ran a cover story on this issue. Here’s the cover article.  The Los Angeles Times has done extensive reporting on this topic as well. Here is a list of recent articles.

5 Responses to What to Make of the Violence in Mexico?

  1. C R Krieger says:

    It would seem to me that Mexico is facing an Insurgency (although talking that way makes the Mexican Government very unhappy).  The thing is, this insurgency isn’t about replacing the current Government with some new strain of Marxism or other “ism” but about getting an economic toe-hold and controlling the businesses in the area under control.  The conflict is not just about drugs or money, it’s about power.

    A former Army War College Professor who is following this issue recently commented:  I commented the other day to a colleague that the dissolution of government authority in the world today is a more significant threat than the rise of China, and was promptly hooted.  But I stand by the comment—we know how to manage superpower relations, particularly one that is as inwardly-focused as the Chinese, but we have only begun to understand the threat to civil life posed around the world by malicious and empowered “sub-state groups”

    There is the use of the term “criminal insurgencies”.  The criminal organization doesn’t wish to overthrow the government but does wish it to be compliant.

    And, the cruelty is terrible.  Opponents are skinned for pleasure.  Here is a report from the Huston Chronicle on a Drug Cartels grabbing buses and … “The elderly are killed. Young women are raped. And able-bodied men are given hammers, machetes and sticks and forced to fight to the death.”

    So, is it war or is it organized crime?

    And, what does US drug use contribute to this?

    This problem is complicated for us because of our past history of using military force against Mexico, as recently as just under 100 years ago.

    Regards  —  Cliff

  2. PaulM says:

    Thanks for this perspective, Cliff. I had not heard the term “criminal insurgenies.” How many sociopaths are walking around out there?

  3. Michael Luciano says:

    This is what happens when you force an activity to go under ground. The drug war is a failure for the same reason alcohol prohibtion was a failure, and it only served to empower organized crime as now. Where there is demand, supply will surely follow, regardless of legal technicalities.

  4. C R Krieger says:


    How many?  That is why God gave us the power to count beyond our fingers and toes.

    It is discouraging, which is why hope is so important.  And, Michael Luciano is correct.  But, I suspect we are past the point where legalization alone will fix this problem.  The Cartels may be too embedded.

    Regards  —  Cliff