Mar 23, 2012

Week's Top Articles about the Drug War: Mar. 16-22, 2012

Drug War News this week saw mixed messages in the drug policy debate. One one side US Northcom Commander, General Charles Jacoby, admitted that capturing and killing Mexico's most wanted drug traffickers has had "no appreciable effect" on levels of violence in Mexico and the British Parliament sent an open letter to Latin American leaders that supported an international dialogue on drug decriminalization. 

On the other hand, however, reports suggest that this dialogue's de facto leader, Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina, has lowered his expectations for drug legalization; coincidentally at the same time as the US is considering reinstalling full military aid to Guatemala for the first time since 1990. 

As the policy debate continues to alternate between progress and regression, the drug war rages on in Mexico and elsewhere, drawing the curious gaze private security contractors looking for markets after Iraq and Afghanistan. And even as Mexico continues to use the US backed model of interdiction in their fight against cartels, the reach of these organizations' criminal activities continues to permeate the country's illegal economy, from extortion, to human trafficking, and even illegal logging.

In modern Mexico, the drug war is inescapable-- and this new reality will come sharply into focus in the context of traditional Mexico when Pope Benedict XVI visits on March 23. In a country where 9 out of 10 people are self-described Catholics, the Pope's arrival will refocus attention on narco-church relations, with believers and non-believers alike keenly paying attention to what the Pope has to say. Movement for Peace and Justice leader Javier Sicillia traveled to the Vatican to meet with church officials on the eve of the Pope's visit.   


Eliminating Cartel Leaders had 'Little Effect' on Mexico Violence, US General says
InSight Crime: "US Northern Command leader General Charles Jacoby told the Senate's Armed Services Committee that Mexico had successfully killed or captured 22 out of 37 of Mexico's most wanted drug traffickers, as identified by the Mexican government. He added that such results had "no appreciable effect," as violence continued to increase in Mexico. The country saw a 10 percent rise in homicides linked to organized crime between 2010 and 2011, finishing the year with nearly 13,000 murders. read more

British Parliament committee supports decriminalization of drugs in Latin America
Milenio: "The British Parliament has sent a letter to the presidents of Mexico, Colombia and Central American countries to show their support for the initiative by Guatemala to begin an international dialogue on the decriminalization of drugs, reported the Guatemalan Embassy in London. read more  

Guatemala's Perez lowers expectations for drug legalization
Christian Science Monitor: "Some analysts got excited when President Otto Perez Molina announced several weeks ago that the Central American presidents would meet in Guatemala to agree to a decriminalization proposal prior to the Summit of the Americas. It was never going to be that easy. read more

Official says US Should Resume Military Aid to Guatemala
InSight Crime: "Speaking to media during a visit to Washington D.C., Guatemalan Defense Minister Ulises Noe Anzueto (shown with President Perez in the photo) said, "We have complied with the declassification of military archives, we have included the issue of human rights in our military academies, and we have (addressed) the remaining concerns there were about this issue."read more   

Security contractors see opportunities, and limits, in Mexico
The Washington Post: "With the Iraq war over and the American presence waning in Afghanistan, U.S. security contractors are looking for new prospects in Mexico, where spreading criminal violence has created a growing demand for battle-ready professionals. read more

In Mexico, extortion is a booming offshoot of drug war
LA Times: "Almost every segment of the economy and society, including businesses, teachers and priests, has been subjected to extortionists who exploit fear of cartels." read more   

At least 16,000 children in Mexico affected by human trafficking
CNN Mexico: "The Mexico Chamber of Deputies, on Thursday, approved the General Law to prevent, punish and eradicate crimes relating to trafficking of humans and to protect and assist victims of this crime. The law provides for penalties for anyone who captures or transfer persons in situations of trafficking. This law will be now be considered by the Senate. read more

World Bank says Illegal logging generates $15 billion per year, controlled by crime
La Jornada: "The probability that Mexico, a veritable forest predator, is punished is one of the lowest in the world. A new international study found evidence of a connection between loggers and organized crime groups, with annual, multimillion dollar profits which fund their criminal networks. read more

Pope's visit to Mexico refocuses attention on narco-church relations
"All I do is say mass there every Sunday," says Father Erasmo Dorantes. "What's done is done and I don't have relations with those people." Those people are the Zetas drug cartel, or more specifically the group's leader, Heriberto Lazcano. Photographs of a plaque thanking the kingpin for building the church caused a scandal when they were published in a national newspaper in October 2010. read more

Javier Sicilia to be received at Vatican
Milenio: "The poet and writer Javier Sicilia announced that he will travel today to the Vatican, where he will be received by representatives of the Catholic Church. He will present to them the situation that exists in Mexico on the eve of Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the country. The leader of the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity will be received by the Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace of the Vatican, Mario Toso." read more

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