Reporting on the Mexican Cartel Drug War

Mexico's drug-war dead: 12,000 in 2011

Tuesday, January 3, 2012 |

by Sarah Childress for Global PostQue Pasa?

A skull in Juarez, one of Mexico's border towns. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
According to La Reforma, a major, respected daily, there were 12,359 deaths last year, which they say is a 6.3 percent increase from 2010. La Jornada, on the other hand, counted only, 11,890 deaths, which it said was a slight decrease from the year before.
Do those numbers really matter?
Not really. What's most important is the public perception — that the drug war has only gotten worse since President Felipe Calderon put the cartels in his crosshairs in 2006.
You could even argue that it has failed.
After five years, the fight has cost too much in blood and treasure — an estimated 50,000 dead over the entire period. That doesn't count the missing. Worse, Mexicans have very little to show for their sacrifice.
Instead of breaking the backs of the cartels, the drug gangs have spread further into Central America, hitting Costa Rica, Belize, Honduras, and Guatemala.

In Mexico, the drug war has sapped people's basic sense of security in cartel-controlled areas. Business owners pay bribes to keep the cartels at bay. Mexican security forces are accused of abusing civilians under the pretext of the drug-war battle. The cartels are no longer content to run their businesses in secret, and instead have become emboldened to do as they please.
 Read morePaying for your life in Mexico    
They behead, disembowel, and string up their rivals. Or innocent civilians who by chance step into the crossfire. They have murdered people en masse. And they have done almost all of this with impunity.
What kind of country is it when this kind of violence can go unpunished so often it becomes banal?

The government response has been muted. Calderon's biggest PR push this year was to encourage tourism to Mexican resorts, which have been hit hard by the violence.

The government hasn't even released its own figures on the body count, despite promising to track deaths on its own.

 Per the Washington Post:
The Calderon government, after promising to update figures regularly, has not reported its own death count, perhaps because the trend line does not look good. A government spokesman said new figures would be released later this month. The ruling party is facing national elections this summer, in which the main opposition party threatens to retake the presidency.
Is it political? Probably, at least in part.

Calderon can't run for president again, per Mexican law. But he can pave the way for his party's successor. At the moment that doesn't seem to be going so well.

A major rival has promised to take soldiers off the streets. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has promised to focus on job creation, and said recently:

"You can’t fight violence with violence," Lopez Obrador said. “We need a loving republic. We need opportunities for young people so they don’t fall into the arms of organized crime.”
That may be a little too optimistic. But it's a message that could resonate in July with voters who are fed up with the random acts of brutal violence — and tired of a government that can't seem to stop it.

Here's hoping someone finds a way in 2012.

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27 Borderland Beat Comments:

Anonymous said...

I personally think Calderon is doing his best by fighting the cartels. In my opinion its gonna take a long time to get Mexico back on track. Yes creating jobs is a start but realisticly most of the gang members/sicarios will prefer easy money than a 9 to 5 job. Maybe the next president can call a treuce between cartels.


Anonymous said...

All i can say is rest in peace to inocent who have died in the drug war my you be in Gods kingdom....

Anonymous said...

Compare the current violence in Mexico with the Thuggee crime wave in India from the 17th to 19th Centuries. The number of victims of the Thuggees is conservatively estimated at 50,000. It was finally stopped by British intervention.

Anonymous said...

Calderon's rival wants to take the military out of the fight and "you can't fight violence with violence".

I thought the people felt safer when the military showed up.


Anonymous said...

Take the Military off the streets, thats one campaign promise the PRI will keep in spades,create jobs you bet Halcones,Secarios,Mules what a great Idea for full employment,sounds like a very agressive form of wealth redistribution. Can Mexicans hide and claim they do not know what the PRI will Do, OR DO MEXICANS CARE??

Anonymous said...

American drug laws do not take into account the fact that the American education system (the public fool system) cranks out mindless amoral creatures whose greatest desire becomes materialistic pleasure.

American drug laws do not take into account the fact that the problem in Mexico is a culture that loves crime. American drug laws feed and dramatically increase the opportunity for crime.

The sensible, reasonable, moral approach is to legalize drug use and treat it as a medical problem.

Anonymous said...

"you can't fight violence with violence" What? WTF?
Doesn't everyone do that all over the world. Saddam Hussein, Osama Bin Laden, and every other criminal I see on tv, if they get crazy the police will kill them. Simple you fight violence with violence.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the next president can call a truce between cartels.


Anonymous said...

January 3, 2012 4:50 PM ,
youre a regular Nostradamus, you should name the winner of the Suerbowl in advance, show us your power of clairvoyance.

Anonymous said...

I think Calderón did a GOOD job ! They have to keep fighting the media makes it seem like those 50,000 are ALL PURE inccent ! When they are not ! I bet a Marjory of them have been cartles killing each other ! I think fighting is the bet answer !

Anonymous said...

Its very simple to solve this problem. If you are caught using drugs, selling drugs, making drugs or trasporting drugs. You get one bullet to the head.

Anonymous said...

@January 3, 2012 5:33 PM

Ending this war means truce. At same time it means those who died, died for nothing.
Cartels aren't going anywhere yet.
There is people who wants to stop this war at any cost, they're tired of it and some politicians use that in their campaign speeches.

We will see if people of Mexico wants to solve this now or just sweep it under the carpet.

I hope they continue the fight for better future.

Anonymous said...

A truce with the cartels..... Ya like calderon aka the tyront with el chapo

Anonymous said...

I didn't know that CT where already operating in tj this video is from august of last year they arrested two men and two women 32 kilos of meth and guns all the arrested are from culiacan

Siskiyou_Kid said...

Calderón has been a disaster for México. He unleashed the army on his own people.

There no telling how many of the dead and missing are innocent victims of the government, as well as victims of criminals and cartels, but the situation is far worse than it was under the Fox administration, or under the PRI.

The PRI may have been corrupt, but so it today's PAN. The return of the PRI couldn't possibly be worse than Calderón, and there's a good chance it would be an improvement.

ajulio said...

And where the hell is the united nations?

Cuz mexico is experiencing an epidemic and the UN just turns a blind eye.

12,000 lives is a lot of people. But I believe that it's more than 12,000.

Anonymous said...

I think Mexico has to ask the UN for some kind of help ? Is that right? When will it be considered so out of control they step in you think they would have way back around the middle 2009 in Juarez? How does that work. Anyone? I'm tired of this. so tired

Anonymous said...

Siskiyou_Kid "situation is far worse than it was under the Fox administration, or under the PRI."

Of course situation is far worse because those earlier administrations what you mentioned DID ALMOST NOTHING or NOTHING.

Make truce and this kind of war just pops out later. Mexico got to deal with this NOW.

Anonymous said...



Siskiyou_Kid said...

The idea that Calderón can somehow "win" the war on crime in México is ludicrous.

What he and his successor can do is concentrate on violent criminals, and organized crime groups who engage in murder, kidnapping, and extortion as a routine part of their operations.

The current campaign concentrates primarily on drug trafficking, making the violence much worse, because of the repercussions that lost loads and power vacuums cause. At the same time the army virtually ignores the crime that's most widespread and seriously affects innocent people: extortion, kidnapping and murder.

Calderón is a bureaucrat who completely misread and underestimated the blowback from destabilizing groups who left behind thousands of violent foot soldiers when their leaders were arrested. Many of these foot soldiers have formed their own loosely affiliated ruthless gangs all over the country.

For Calderón or his successor to "win", much less put a small dent in drug trafficking in México is not even a remote possibility, even if you could define what a "win" is.

What can be achieved, hopefully, is a steady reduction in murder and kidnapping related to extortion and corrupt law enforcement.

Chivis said...

I strongly agree with you. The numbers are woefully incorrect.
There are no counting systems in some states e.g. Tamps
Intentional misclassifying killings e.e suicide/accidental

Central American Migrant disappearings: Those account for 10K-15K each year! most of those people are dead
and in 2011 in six mos alone the count was over 10K of CA "disappearings" if we say 12K on ave for six yrs...that is 72,000 killings of migrants...

as for things getting worse, there are many more cartels and smaller cartels and regional gangs, all fighting for the same territories, that fact alone would account for heighten violence. Truces never work they are temporal by nature of greed. Mexicos deal with the devil got us into this tradegy in the first place. my daily dos...goodnight! and thanks for the input

Anonymous said...

If it was mostly criminals affected by the violence (gang on gang) then the public would not mind. Given that the general public is suffering (assuming it is not only communist propaganda wishing to rib the ruling elite of their ruling priveleges) it is quite obvious that it is NOT only criminals affected.

Anonymous said...


"Its very simple to solve this problem. If you are caught kidnapping, raping, extorting, killing, using drugs, selling drugs, making drugs or transporting drugs. You get one bullet to the head. PROBLEM SOLVED!"

Anonymous said...

"you can't fight violence with violence".What a fuckin joke.Anyone who agrees with this statement,are the kind who end up as victims of violence.The "violence solves nothing brigade".
I'm here to tell you that fuck yes,violence works like nothing else,you all know it,but choose to believe that we are better than that?Fuckin sheep.Grow some balls,don't rely on some imaginary government force to save your ass.They use violence you know,anyway that's up to you people.

Anonymous said...

The problem is there is not enough violence. Calderon uses half measures that do not solve the problem. If he cordoned off Nuevo Laredo, killed the several thousand Zetas holed up in there, that would send a powerful message to all the Zeta wannabes.

Anonymous said...

So many dumb comments on this article,Siskiyou Kid seems to be the only one that knows wat he is talking about.

How can Calderon even think he could stop drug trafficking?? No matter what happens drug trafficking will always be there.

Wake the fuck you guys are all idiots.The last Mexican President was a genious!!!!!!!!

He was realistic,even if Calderon somehow manages to seize all the drugs in Mexico right now,5000000 trips to introduce drugs in Mexico and eventually the U.S its on its way and has been planned already.You cant stop people from using drugs its called god allowed us to choose our path,I swear alot of people are straight up stupid,prasing Calderon is the same thing as praising an IDIOT

Anonymous said...

January 4, 2012 11:39 PM .I guarantee you,that this is that crank Siskiyou Kid,posting under anonymous?
No one here thinks Calderon is a genius,we all think he had balls unlike you,to try and do something.Or are you one of these cranks who think he is in league with Chapo?Do you want the status quo to continue?Isn't that endemic corruption/collusion the very thing that has led to the situation we are now in?The very thing that has Mexico in such bad shape?Just let the traffic continue with its power to corrupt absolutely everything and everyone?Sheeple like you are part of the problem,grow some balls.Calderon did.

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