viernes, 9 de diciembre de 2011

"Mexico, a Country in Crisis, Needs a Fix the Size of the Marshall Plan" (Newsweek/The Daily Beast, December 9, 2011)

Saadi Gaddafi´s plan to seek refuge in Mexico is a direct consequence of the U.S. backed “war on drugs.” The effort to eliminate the drug cartels by brute force instead of through intelligent strategic planning has weakened Mexico´s institutions to such an extent that the country now has turned into a safe haven for international criminals. The typical knee-jerk reaction to such news, calling for increased military intervention to stop the “terrorists” and “insurgents” south of the Rio Grande, will only make things worse. It is high time for rational thinking finally to predominate over macho saber-rattling when dealing with the Mexican humanitarian crisis, which has taken more than 50,000 lives, displaced 230,000 persons and “disappeared” another 10,000 over the past five years.

The idea that Mexico´s President Felipe Calderón has conducted a “frontal attack” against the drug cartels is patently false. There are no signs that organized crime actually has been weakened since the present Mexican president came to power in 2006. To the contrary, the cultivation and use of drugs in Mexico has risen dramatically, organized crime groups now have more firepower than ever before, money is freely laundered in the country and the impunity rate has reached an historic high, with, at most, 5 percent of all crimes receiving punishment.

All that Calderón´s U.S. backed tactics have achieved is the detonation of an increasingly violent “arms race” in which the drug cartels need to kill more ruthlessly and bribe government officials more aggressively in order to maintain their market shares. As long as drugs remain illegal and assault weapons are freely available in the United States, the short-sighted militarized tactics implemented today will only lead to an increase in the carnage. In addition, President Barack Obama´s crackdown on illegal migration has had the effect of increasing the power of human smugglers linked to organized crime by making their services more needed and valuable than ever before.

The only way out is for the United States to invest in the future of North America by launching an aggressive economic investment and reconstruction program for Mexico, similar to the Marshall Plan in post-war Europe. Real per capita income growth has been almost nonexistent over the past three decades in Mexico. The recent global financial crisis has taken a heavy toll on the country, with the economy losing 6.1 percent of its GDP during 2009 alone. This has led to the creation of a vast reserve army of unemployed youth who are easy prey for the drug cartels...