Mexico City - In the traditional Sicilian mafia, families were normally off limits. You could kill the capo; you couldn’t kill his mother or children.
The message couldn’t have been more clear: Touch us, and your family may pay the price.
Most Americans pay little attention to Mexico, but this atrocity should a wake-up call. It exemplifies the drug-fueled wave of criminal violence that has been taking on the dimensions of a civil war in that country. More than 15,000 Mexicans have been killed since President Felipe Caldern launched a military offensive against the drug cartels and crime syndicates three years ago.
The United States for the most part takes its southern neighbor for granted. Mexico – fast-developing and largely democratic – has been a key trade partner and a font of rich Latino culture. Its collapse into a narco-state would pose a dire threat to U.S. national security.
America bears immense responsibility for Mexico’s troubles. If cocaine and heroin abuse weren’t pandemic in this country, there would be less fighting over the smuggling pipelines that carry these drugs through Mexico and across the U.S. border. If the United States were stopping illegal shipments of U.S. arms into Mexico, the cartels would have a much tougher time equipping their armies. If America put its own house in order, Mexico’s problems would become far more manageable.
That doesn’t seem likely to happen anytime soon, so Mexico’s courageous offensive against the drug syndicates looks like the main theater in this war.
When the family of an ordinary marine is massacred because he took part in a raid against a cartel leader, it means two things: First, the cartels are raising the stakes as high as they can go. Second, the government is hitting them hard and hurting them badly.
This has become a war of desperation on both sides, and America ought to be paying attention.