Who is behind the 25,000 deaths in Mexico?

Charles Bowden and Molly Molloy

With at least 25,000 people slaughtered in Mexico since President Felipe Calderón hurled the Mexican Army into the anti-cartel battle, three questions remain unanswered: Who is being killed, who is doing the killing and why are people being killed?

Because it’s not only narcos who are being killed. Too often it is just ordinary Mexicans “who magically morph into drug cartel members before their blood dries on the streets”

The Army can be every bit as savage towards civilians as the cartels.

Here is the US policy in a nutshell: we pay Mexicans to kill Mexicans, and this slaughter has no effect on drug shipments or prices.

This war gets personal. A friend calls late at night from Juárez and says if he is murdered before morning, be sure to tell his wife. It never occurs to him to call the police, nor does it occur to you.

No one asks or answers this question: How does such an escalation benefit the drug smuggling business which has not been diminished at all during the past three years of hyper-violence in Mexico?

Such madness really seems to benefit no one. Lots more money can be made by all when things are peaceful. So why the ultra violence, which can only be bad for business.

The government has only investigated a tiny number of the 25,000 murders. Why is this? Are they overwhelmed? Compromised? Something else? Bowden, who has covered Juarez for fifteen years, seems to hint at something, but I’m not sure what. Maybe he’s not sure either.

Maybe the sad truth is, the government of Mexico is hollowing out and can no longer fulfill its basic function of protecting citizens.


  1. More interesting is [queue Twilight Zone theme] why on Bush ally Felipe Calderón’s watch, election is every bit as questionable as that of the Cheney Administration? Time passes, people forget.

    I’m still not entirely convinced but what it’s all a bit overblown. Discounting the Mexican Mamas running an underground railroad for AWOL Afghan soldiers and sleeper cells of al Qaeda anchor babies, it serves nothing but as an under-current in the war on The Other. It establishes, as Israel has done in Palestine, a public perception that these places are lawless war zones inhabited by the less than human, thereby more readily establishing in the public mind the picture of The Enemy, or The Terrorist.

    AND! I question the market. Grant that Oregon is a relatively small place where it’s possible to know folks from every corner… who buys this shit? Though not as prolific, we’ve a strong cannibus culture, and even in the city, people either grow their own, buy local or don’t use drugs at all (or some combination thereof – I for example have used no drugs, legal, prescribed or otherwise otherthan the occasional puff since 1987). Seriously. America has a problem with drugs… drive down an suburban street and within moments you’ll see a sign spelling out in four foot letters DRUGS. But I don’t think it’s problem with illegal drugs is big enough to spark these alleged cartels and a supposed massive smuggling operation on a war-like scale. I just don’t think there’s a market for it.

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