By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
The American press continues to report the body count in Mexico's "War on Drugs" at more than 50,000 dead.
But Molly Molloy, a researcher at New Mexico State University, tallies more than 100,000 Mexicans killed to wage a war financed and mandated by American authorities and led by Mexican President Felipe Calderón.
The carnage has been so remarkable — mass executions, beheadings, mutilations, men, women, children — that the outgoing Calderón has announced he may leave the country lest he become a statistic.
And yet The New York Times on July 4 declared the War on Drugs a cruel failure, claiming that the price of cocaine, for example, is 74 percent cheaper now than it was 30 years ago. America has spent $20 to $25 billion a year to stem the flow of narcotics, to no good end.
The evening news vibrates with the mayhem in Syria, where the recent uprising has cost 17,000 lives. During the 12 years of the Vietnam War, broadcasts tracked the 50,000 Americans who perished on the other side of the world. But the 100,000 Mexicans lost supplying America's thirst for drugs are, for the most part, unremarked upon. Mexico elected a new president earlier this month. Enrique Peña Nieto promises to put an end to the killing, yet his only new proposal is to create another paramilitary force — like those implicated in much of the killing happening now.
Arizona author Charles Bowden and his New Mexico partner, Molly Molloy, have written a highly personal tale of the devastation as illuminated by the trail of murdered Mexican journalists. Survivors have gathered at a barbecue in Texas, where the story unfolds.--Michael Lacey, executive editor, Village Voice Media___________________________________________
Children play in the pool, hamburgers and hot dogs sizzle on the grill. The exiles will be here shortly after their year in flight from a house full of dead people. Everyone at the party has dead people murdered in Mexico by the Mexican government with the silent consent of the United States government. There are 100,000 slaughtered Mexicans now. These gatherings will grow larger.
Carlos Spector hosts this fiesta. He is an American immigration lawyer in El Paso, but in the past four years his practice has been taken over by political-asylum seekers, Mexicans with no money fleeing a Mexican government that wants to kill them. He is also a product of Mexico and spent a lot of his childhood on the other side of the Rio Grande. Now he cannot go there, because the Mexican army would like to kill him too.
Like everyone here, he had planned a different life. His father came down from New York, fell in love with a Mexican girl and raised a family across the river, in the village of Guadalupe. When Carlos left the U.S. Air Force, he studied sociology, but gave that up because "it was too slow. I didn't want to study the state, I wanted to smash it."
An old woman sits silently at the party. Sara Salazar, matriarch of the Reyes Salazar clan, is about 80 years old and from Guadalupe. Carlos Spector knew her people as a child. They killed some of her grown sons — one, two, three, just like that — and two daughters, also.
The woman in the blue blouse with the bangs and the ponytail worked as the police secretary in Guadalupe "before they killed everyone," she notes. The man in the green shirt — he was a city councilman before he fled for his life. The man with the sober face — he is the sole surviving son. He was a baker before the killing got bad. Then they burned the house down; the family library of 3,000 books perished in the flames. In his bakery, he always had someone reading out loud while everyone worked. The same day the house burned, the crosses vanished from the graves of murdered family members and were deposited against the Mexican army barracks in Guadalupe. In their little town of 3,000 people, 250 have been murdered.
Saul, the baker, the surviving brother, says, "Sometimes I start to cry. I lost half my family, my job. What more can I lose? Sometimes I worry even here in El Paso, but if I am murdered here, at least it will be investigated."
He has a book in which he has carefully written down the names and dates of all the dead because he thinks someone should remember what has happened to his town and his nation and someday tell it, lest the lies become the history. Martha Gellhorn, the fearless novelist and reporter portrayed by Nicole Kidman in the recent HBO series Hemingway & Gellhorn, came out of her wars and wrote, "If nobody puts it down on the record anywhere, then the monsters win totally."
At last the exiles arrive: Miguel Angel López Solana, 32, his wife, Vanessa, younger. People came and killed Miguel's father and his mother and his brother. For months, he and his wife bounced between their home in Veracruz, Mexico City and the border. Finally, they fled to Corpus Christi, Texas, and waited for a chance to return to Mexico. Then in May of this year, four more people from their circle were slaughtered, and they knew that a return home was impossible. They called Carlos Spector.
Nice nice i like it!!! check this out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EeewRDqXpVw
if they took up arms against their oppressors as we did in 1776 then their problem would be what do we do with our freedom, instead they run away hide and complain about the violence? and expect America to fix it? we have enough of our own problems when you fix ours begining with illeagel immigration then we might be willing to listen to your complaints
Was it the war on drugs that killed all of these people or was it the drug war that killed these people?
...what's the difference?.... If the business of trading in these various commodities was legal and regulated (as is tobacco and tequila), would these gangs be viciously killing innocent men, women and children in the streets of Mexico? The prohibition drug policies of the world have not improved our quality of life. Instead; those who are willing to destroy peace and tranquility have been allowed to advance their agenda of death, destruction and evil.
It's past time for a major change in world wide drug policies.
Maybe it is time for some change. But the fact of the matter is the drugs are not legal right now and won't be for in the near future. I don't see any organized movement to legalize them as of yet anyways. And until they are legal, maybe people should take an ounce of personal responsibility for their actions. The fact of the matter is that if you are currently using drugs that have come through Mexico you are the end consumer in a business model that has brutally killed tens of thousands of people. You have have blood on your hands. Everyone just goes to the "they should legalize it" line. It's a cop out and it's selfish. Take some responsibility for yourself the effects your actions have on the world.
Although it will not solve every problem, legalization and regulation will be a clear improvement of the situation. And just so you know, I support legalization for the worldwide effects that it would have - not the personal/selfish effect. I am not an illegal "drug" user. And if you would look around, you might find a few organizations that are having degrees of success in their legalization efforts . As a matter of fact, the Texas Democratic Party put legalization on its' party platform this year. It appears to me that somebody is taking responsibility and showing initiative in a good way on this issue.
@123blowme I have no connection to the alcohol industry and I didn't single out pot users. The question is, do you think a legalized industry of hard drugs would lead to more or less deaths than the current alcohol industry. I would argue that it would be worse.
@Humanbeing Do you work for the alcohol industry? More people die each year due to alcohol-related death and violence than all drug cartel killings combined over the past five years. So yeah, pot users may have blood on their hands but not near as much as boozers.
"The United States walls off Mexico on national-security grounds and then decries imaginary violence spilling north across the border". Was a pretty good article until that kneeslapper. How's the weather in your world Senor Bowden?
Words that attempt to describe the catastrophic disaster that is taking place across the border will always be insufficient. The problems that are coming from the mindset that brings on drug use and drug wars should be addressed by an international summit and task force. Public policy that will turn the habits of the worlds population into assets as opposed to liabilities is necessary right now! I am encouraged that the Texas Democratic Party has included the legalization of marijuana in its' party platform this year. This is a good first step toward solving the problems brought on by the stupidity of drug interdiction policies. Drug interdiction policies do not work and cost too much money and waste too many lives. Its past time that people in this country try a new approach to this problem.
One thing that could work to greatly reduce drug-related crime; legalize drugs in the US, regulate strength and purity and sell them OTC to adults, applying 'sin' taxes as is presently done to alcohol and tobacco.
This is unlikely to happen for several reasons; inertia, the money to be made by the 'justice' and penal systems from prohibition, and outright bribes to legislators to maintain the status quo.
Been a Bowden fan for years. His research and writing on the morass that is Mexico today is very interesting and enlightening. What does amaze me is the utter ignorance in the States about what is truly going on in Mexico now. I was visiting Jalisco last month, a relatively safe state, and had the opportunity to meet with Mexicans that live above the poverty line and they all said they are truly scared about the random nature of the violence. They are more frightened by the military, state and local police than they are the Zeta's or other narco's.
The shear volume of bodies in many of the mass killings in the last couple years is astonishing.
How does a band of criminals kidnap, torture and dismember 50 people and dump the body parts on a major urban highway during rush hour with no one noticing it.
Hijacking full buses traveling through Tamaulipis and killing people 20 to 30 at a time. 70 migrants lined up and shot dead in a barn near San Fernando.
The videos of people being decapitated while still alive. The killing of innocent family members on video to extort money.