A staggering 23,000 people have been killed in the last three and a half years in Mexico’s “war on drugs.” Poor Mexico is right next door to the biggest drugs market in the world, the United States.
The “war” was declared by President Felipe Calderon when he came to power. He has bussed troops and police into cities such as Juarez, which stands on the main smuggling route, in an attempt to halt the traffic into the US. In spite of all those security forces, more than 1,000 people have been killed in the city in drugs-related violence this year, and the mayor has to drive around in a heavily armoured vehicle.
Most of those killed are aged between 14 and 24, but while Mexico sees its future bleeding away, the drugs cartels just find other paths for their product. Unemployment is high, and the gangs have no difficulty in recruiting killers for £30 a week.
As I wrote in my blog of May 28, perhaps the most depressing thing about the “war on drugs” is how little evidence there is of an intelligent debate about whether the policy makes sense.