The conflict sweeping the nation is expanding rapidly. Areas under the influence or control of drug cartels are increasing. The "drug war" is taking a very sinister turn.
The drug cartels are constantly on the offensive now and have been for much of 2010, threatening the fabric of society.
The government is unable to impose the rule of law within ever increasing areas of the country as organized criminal groups destabilize society through the terrorism of both deliberate attacks against state institutions and the random violence against civil society.
The perception to the rest of the world is that in these areas law enforcement is irrelevant and only the military is capable of imposing order and only temporarily at best.
The bodies of rival criminals, police and innocent civilians, many decapitated and dismembered, now appear in the streets on a daily basis in a campaign of intimidation of the population and a show of impunity.
The fear is so complete that many citizens in the affected areas no longer send their children to school. The feeling is that it is only a matter of time before the children are attacked en masse by criminals or fall victim to the crossfire of growing combat between government forces and attackers.
The political process is under attack as gubernatorial and local elections are disrupted by threats and assassinations of candidates or their family members. The authorities are unable to protect political parties or candidates and in some locations no one can be found to run for any office, except for the most corrupt.
Tourism, once a top revenue generator, is in danger of collapse as foreigners are attacked, robbed and murdered.
Take an educated guess. Are we speaking of Iraq, Afghanistan, the ungovernable tribal areas of Pakistan? Are we describing the failed states of Somalia and Yemen or the battlegrounds of Chechnya, Gaza or Lebanon?
No. We are describing our southern neighbor Mexico. The land of so many of our parents and immigrants. We are seeing a nightmare unfold that we can’t even imagine in our safe worlds of The U.S. and Canada.
Maybe it’s time to change the definitions of this conflict and its actors.
Should we stop speaking of organized crime and drug cartels and sicarios and begin speaking of terrorists and insurgents armies?
Many academics, policymakers and politicians will berate this view as an uneducated oversimplification but for the common people on our side of the border a line has been crossed this week. A line that to Mexican citizens may have been crossed a long time ago.
We know the truth. Mexico is in a state of civil war.
The civil war
The expanding anarchy and mindless violence that Ciudad Juarez has suffered most acutely since the beginning of the Calderon presidency is now spreading in what looks like an unstoppable wave throughout Mexico.
The Mexican army reported 15 gunmen killed in the tourist city of Taxco, Guerrero, on Tuesday , June 15. Taxco is the site of the mine used by the Beltran Leyva Organization as a clandestine dumping ground for approximately 100 execution victims, mainly rival drug cartel criminals.
There were at least 13 other deaths on Tuesday including 7 executions in Chihuahua and Guerrero and 6 people killed including one soldier in an armed confrontation in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas.
At last count a total of 89 people were killed on Monday in attacks perpetrated by organized crime groups including another political candidate, police, unarmed civilians and rival criminals making this day the bloodiest in Mexico since the beginning of President Calderon’s term.
The 89 deaths included 12 federal police agents were killed and 15 wounded when their convoy was ambushed in Zitacuaro, Michoacan. Three more federal policemen were killed and one wounded in the city of Chihuahua and 28 inmates were killed in a prison riot in Mazatlan, Sinaloa between opposing Zeta and Sinaloa cartel inmates. A political candidate was also executed in Sinaloa
Last Friday, June 11th, marked the previous bloodiest day in Mexico when 85 people were killed including the execution of 20 rival gang members whose bodies littered the streets of Ciudad Madero and 19 residents of a drug rehab center were executed in Ciudad Juarez.
Last week the victims of organized crime executions and confrontations reached 300.
Except for Tuesday’s incident in Taxco, the prison riot in Mazatlan and an attack on an army convoy in Guerrero on Friday, not one arrest of any organized crime gunman was reported.
Last week the arrest of one upper level Zeta cartel member resulted in a one day siege of Monterrey, Mexico’s 3rd largest metropolitan area and industrial capitol. In a scene symbolic of the impunity of organized crime, a news video shows a police vehicle retreating upon seeing a group of thugs taking over an intersection. (see video in Monterrey a battleground… 6/10/10)
We all know these numbers by now. The close to 30,000 deaths in the last 3 and a half years of the Calderon administration. The 5,121 already executed this year
These are not the numbers or scenes that describe a healthy, thriving society.
James Fearon, in the journal Foreign Affairs march/april 2007, describes the term “civil war” as a war between organized groups within a single nation state.
This is an excellent description of Mexico today.