The press is calling it the Mother’s Day Massacre. As many as a 70 headless and handless bodies on the side of a major road in Mexico, about an hour and a half drive from Texas. The number of dead isn’t certain. The bodies need to be reassembled to get an accurate count.
According to reports, this will bring the six year homicide total to an estimated 60,000 by the end of the year. To put this in perspective, remember that Mexico’s population is about a third of the US. Their rate of homicide is about twice that of ours over the last six years on average. And it’s largely driven by drug cartels competing for territory. Last year’s total homicides, more than 37,000, absolutely swamps our rate at more than double the latest figures in the US.
The cartels are using a terror type strategy of mass murder and the shocking display of mutilated bodies to intimidate those who might otherwise be tempted into entering the lucrative drug smuggling market. And, although Mexican officials claim the number of deaths has stabilized, it doesn’t look like the violence will stop any time soon.
North of the border, US officials worry the mayhem will spread into Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. There is already evidence that Mexican style corruption is overwhelming our own small border towns. There’s just too much money (the carrot) and the threat of violence (the stick) to back it up.
A couple of more radical solutions have been proposed. One is legalization, although the types of drugs fueling the cartel battles wouldn’t be as tame as marijuana. Cocaine and meth are also in the mix. Another idea is to put US troops returning from the Middle East on the border to shut off the pipeline and ruin the economics for the Mexican dealers. This has serious political ramifications, not the least of which is the expense in a time of budget cuts.
Even with the never ending violence, Mexican leaders say they aren’t doing so badly. Tourism is OK and their economy looks to be making a strong recovery from recession. They won’t say how much of this is driven by drug money flowing from the US. One example is marijuana, which is Mexico’s biggest agricultural export.