Nov 24, 2011

Mexico’s changing drug war: Shifting sands

An overview of shifts in the levels of drug war violence across Mexico during 2011.  Government spokesmen and outside critics offer differing explanations of why violence in decreasing in some places, like Ciudada Juarez, while increasing eleswhere.  A state by state map of levels and changes in those levels accompanies this article from the British newspaper, the Guardian. 

The Economist: "Since 2006, when Mexico’s president,  Felipe Calderón, ... launched  his war on the drug cartels... each year the number of deaths has risen, most of them concentrated in a handful of cities. But this year both those tendencies look as if they have started to change. The annual death toll seems to have plateaued at around 12,000. Hotspots have cooled, only for violence to invade places previously considered safe.

Ciudad Juárez, in Chihuahua state and on the border with Texas, is the most striking example of this... The turnaround is the fruit of better co-operation between the municipal, state and federal branches of government, according to Héctor Murguía, Juárez’s mayor.

... Others are sceptical about the relevance of the government in reducing the violence in places such as Juárez and Tijuana. In both cities ...  the dip in violence suggests that the powerful Sinaloa “cartel” has at last beaten or reached an accommodation with its rivals, believes David Shirk, head of the Trans-Border Institute at the University of San Diego. ... Some of the (police) busts may be thanks to rival cartels’ tip-offs. “The government is an instrument that contributes—but whose hand is on the instrument?” asks Mr Shirk.

...Though Sinaloa’s expansion may have slowed the violence in Juárez and Tijuana, elsewhere it has stirred it up (in Monterrey, Acapulco and Veracruz)... violence in places such as (Monterrey,) Nuevo León “suggests that what has happened in Juárez can happen anywhere in Mexico,” Mr Shirk says." read more

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