Over the summer I have been following the latest stories on the drug war in Mexico. This war is a result of six main drug cartels all in opposition to become the leader of this somewhat lucrative trade. Mexico is the main transit point for drugs, predominantly cocaine, across to Colombia and heading up to North America and despite further restrictions on border crossing drug trafficking is still one of the major issues affecting Mexico today. Drug traffickers are continually finding new ways of smuggling drugs and are thought to now be using east and west coasts of Canada to import these illegal substances.
A recent report on the BBC News website (see link: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/7625195.stm) states that 80% of Mexican citizens believe that President Felipe Calderon, who came to power in December of 2006, should be seeking alternative ways of tackling the problem, as many agreed that drugs were the second most prominent problem in the country after corruption and took precedence over worries about the economy and education. When the BBC's John Simpson interviewed President Calderon, Calderon seemed adamant that the problem was being dealt with and made better and he seemed keen to emphasize that Mexico is not the only country that faces such issues with drugs, although as Simpson pointed out, no country is affected by it on such a grand scale. The interview can be seen via the link below.
What I find all the more concerning about this current crisis is the new law proposed by President Calderon which actually decriminalises the possession of small amounts of drugs. For example a person found carrying 5 grams (0.18 ounces) of marijuana, 500 milligrams (0.018 ounces) of cocaine and similar quantities of other drugs such as heroin and methamphetamines, will no longer be charged but instead will be recommended to a rehabilitation clinic. The logic behind this is predominantly to free up police time to focus on larger and more pressing drug related cases. A similar proposal was voiced in 2006 but never put into action for fears that it would only increase drug abuse. I must admit, I am currently in two minds about this recent law. I can understand the logic behind it and if it genuinely benefits the country by giving the police more time to focus on the larger cases concerning the drug cartels, then the President has made a good judgement on the situation, however, by legalising small amounts of fatally addictive substances, it almost seems an encouragement. Addicts now know what they are allowed to carry on their person without getting convicted for it. Surely, this will not wean people away from drugs but will instead give them a way to continue their abusive habits. I will be very interested to see how this affects the drug war over time and whether there will really be any impact, or if it will instead cause a further deterioration.
This year it is thought that there have already been around 3,000 deaths due to drug related violence. This is a shocking rise from last year, in which 2,700 people were killed in the whole of the year. There are fears that the figures will continue to rise unless something new is done to stop this increasingly violent war.
I think this will be an ongoing problem for Mexico, especially as corruption within the authorities has played a huge part, with many police and border control officers having been found to have been helping drug traffickers. President Calderon needs to make this his main focus in aiding and reassuring his country that their way of life will be improved.
I will continue to research this story and keep up to date with any recent developments.