Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

Who Will Step Up and Do Something?

Tuesday, March 16, 2010 |

Juárez violence: Who will step up and do something?

El Paso Times Editorial Board

Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua - Mexican government officials, even at the highest levels, can't seem to come up with any concrete plans to effectively confront violence in Juárez and other parts of Mexico.

Mexican President Felipe Calderón was back in Juárez on Wednesday, but was unable or unwilling to be specific about measures aimed at stopping violence. He said he would send a special team of police to investigate kidnapping and extortion in the city.

Those are certainly matters for concern, but they skirt the core issue of drug cartel violence and how to stop it.

Calderón talked in rather vague terms about improving safety, raising the standards for police recruits, assigning a special prosecutor to Juárez, about changing society and making Juárez a better place to live.

Hugo Almada, who attended the meeting representing the local public safety committee, was blunt in his assessment. Blaming Calderón, the mayor of Juárez and the governor of Chihuahua for the violence, he said, "The problem ... in Juárez is corruption. We think that the corruption of the federal, state, local and military forces is the center and the foundation of the problem."

Many would agree with him. But pervasive corruption is difficult to root out because, for one thing, no one knows who can and cannot be trusted.

Even Calderón hinted at the problem when he said, "You need people who you can trust. We have detected -- I'm not saying in Juárez, but the country in general -- a powerful infiltration of the same criminal elements in the police corps."

As people protest, officials dither and fingers are pointed, the cartels flourish and prosper amidst the violence and confusion, content that they are at the top of the food chain and have no natural enemies except themselves.

Perhaps it is time, as many have said, that outside help should be called in because Mexican officialdom, from federal levels down through city government, seem unwilling or unable to cope with the growing crisis.

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