« Previous Story | Front Page | Next Story »


Ignoring our War Next Door

By Alan Jilka
Opinion | March 16, 2012

SALINA, Kan. - While the United States remains focused on Iran and Syria the war next door drags on. I refer to the drug wars that have convulsed Mexico during the past five years. While Vice-President Biden was meeting with Mexican leaders in Mexico City this past week, Juarez, Mexico, residents Manuel and Isabel Martinez were in Kansas visiting their daughter who is a student at Kansas Wesleyan University. I found their observations on Mexico's plight on the eve of its own upcoming July Presidential election worth sharing.

Isabel, a hospital nurse, sees the violence firsthand. According to Isabel and her husband, President Felipe Calderon's well-intentioned effort to rid the country of drug cartels is widely viewed as a failure. While violence has abated somewhat in Juarez itself, the war between the drug gangs has spread to other parts of the country.

Associated Press writer Olga Rodriguez cited statistics this week showing that nearly fifty thousand people have been killed in drug violence during the first five years of the Calderon Administration.

A key factor keeping the drug mafias in business has been the consistent demand from Mexico's northern neighbor. Most Mexicans see little hope of reigning in the cartels as long as the demand for their products remains strong in the United States.

Conservative American commentator Pat Buchanan once famously remarked that "the problem with the (our own) war on drugs is that we have millions of Americans collaborating with the enemy," (i.e. the drug users). And in fact TIME magazine's July 2011 cover story entitled "The War Next Door," cites a figure of $65 Billion annually in reference to Americans' consumption of illegal drugs, a bigger business than all professional sports and Hollywood combined.

There has also been a deluge of arms flooding into Mexico in recent years, mostly from the United States. When President Calderon spoke to a joint session of the U.S. Congress a couple years ago he pleaded with lawmakers to reinstate the Assault Weapons Ban. His pleas fell on deaf ears. During his meeting with Biden, Calderon again asked for help controlling the flow of weapons and drug money south across the border.

Amid such an environment Manuel Martinez expects the ruling party of President Calderon (PAN) to lose the upcoming elections. Opposition (PRI) party candidate Enrique Peña Nieto assured Vice-President that his government will be "committed to fighting organized crime." However, many, say Martinez, expect him to make accommodations with the drug cartels in an effort to end the violence. The reasoning is that since the government has proven itself incapable of eliminating the corruption that has assisted the cartels they should return to the old ways of payoffs that ensured a modicum of peace and tranquility. The Mexican people have been traumatized by the daily violence and are ready to do whatever necessary to return safety to the streets, including making unsavory compromises.

To ultimately end the drug wars Manuel Martinez has become convinced that the U.S. needs to help its neighbor by decriminalizing drugs. His reasoning is simple. Criminalization of drugs has been a huge failure, just like Prohibition before it. For Mexicans the proof is direct - the body count. Drugs, therefore should be legalized, taxed and regulated like another, alcohol, already is.

The United States government has given our southern neighbor as much material assistance that the highly-nationalistic Mexicans will accept. But by in large this war remains an "out of sight out of mind" conflict for most Americans. As long as the violence stays south of the Rio Grande that attitude likely won't change.

But Manuel Martinez thinks the violence will inevitably spill across the border. The United States provides the demand and huge profit motive for the narco-traffickers. Although to date Mexico has borne the brunt of the human toll, Americans too are being victimized by the cartels. Maybe we need to get engaged in the search for another solution before it's too late.


1 Comment

Just imagine what a transformation would take place if we legalized drugs, controlled their use and sale (as we do cigarettes and alcohol),taxed them, provided rehab for the addicted, and got narco-terrorists out of the mix. We obviously learned nothing from Prohibition.


Post your own comment here


Do you want to read more? You've only just scratched the surface at the Kansas Free Press. We have so much more to read! Nearly all of the pieces published here are timeless and relevant, regardless of when the articles were first published. To discover more, please take a look at our Table of Contents or go back to our Front Page.


Our sponsors help us stay online to serve you. Thank you for doing your part! By using the specific links below (clicking through from our site) to start any of your online shopping, you are making a tremendous difference. By using the shopping links provided on a Kansas Free Press page, you are directly helping to support the Kansas Free Press:



About This Page

This page contains just one story published on March 16, 2012. The one written previous to this is titled "Where Does the Republican Delegate Distribution Come From?" and the story published right after this one is "Dave's Dilemma"

Our most current stories are always updated on our Front Page.

Other Archives

Interested in other topics? You may wish to poke around in our Table of Contents to find other sections and archives.

Do you want to explore pieces written by specific authors? You can find archives for KFP writers by reviewing our complete Directory of Authors and Writers here.

Recently Featured Stories

My Response As a Kansan to Jessica Valenti

Jessica Valenti has come on board The Nation magazine to fill in for Katha Pollitt as the feminist columnist while Pollitt is on leave to write a book. I've found reading Valenti's columns thought-provoking and insightful. She often takes …
Of Angels and God's Dogs

There might be a whole group of us out there--people who value our relationships with animals on a par with our ties to people. "Get over it--it was just a dog" does not resonate with us. Our society places …
Of Angels and God's Dogs

There might be a whole group of us out there--people who value our relationships with animals on a par with our ties to people. "Get over it--it was just a dog" does not resonate with us. Our society places …
Roots of the n-word

While N-word dialogue has slackened following Saline County Commissioner Gile's use of it recently, the word still has great power. So, let's look inward at the N-word. To reach a much deeper path to understanding, simply go to Ad …
Corporate Tax Reform

Basehor, Kans.--For an interesting twist on the corporate tax debate, look at Alan Sloan's opinion in the April 29 issue of Fortune Magazine. In all of the froth about corporate taxation, neither proponents of tax reduction, nor corporate critics, …

News and Opinion





Get Connected

See our FB page!
Subscribe for free!
[Feeds & Readers...]
Follow Kansas Free Press on Twitter, too!
Make Kansas Free Press your home page!

Journalists, sign in.

We're reader supported!

Whenever you use the specific links below to begin any of your online shopping, a portion of your sale goes directly towards the support of this site.

Tech Depot - An Office Depot Co.


Our sponsors help us stay online to serve you. Thank you for doing your part! By using the specific links above (clicking through from our site) to start any of your online shopping, you are making a tremendous difference. By using the shopping links provided on a Kansas Free Press page, you are directly helping to support the Kansas Free Press.

Thank you for your help!

Notices & Policies

All of our Kansas Free Press journalists are delighted that you are here. We all hope that you come here often, sign in and leave us comments, and become an active part of our community. Welcome!

Our writers are credentialed after referral to, and approval by, the editor/publisher of KansasFreePress.com. If you are interested in writing with us, please feel free to let us know here. We are always looking for Kansans who want to write about Kansas!

All authors here retain their own copyrights for their original written works, original photographs and art works. They welcome others to copy, reference or quote from the content of their stories, provided that the reprints include obvious author and website attribution and links to the original page, in accordance with this publication's Creative Commons License.

Our editor primarily reviews stories for spelling, grammar, punctuation and formatting and is not liable or responsible for the opinions expressed by individual authors. The opinions and accuracy of information in the individual stories on this site are the sole responsibility of each of the individual authors. For complete site policies, including privacy, see our Frequently Asked Questions. This site is designed, maintained, and owned by its publisher, Everyday Citizen Media. The Kansas Free Press, KansasFreePress.com, and Kansas Free Press are trademarked names.

© Copyright, 2008-2012, all rights reserved, unless otherwise specified, first by the respective author, and then by KFP's publisher and owner for any otherwise unreserved and all other content.