Thinking Long Term: Solutions to the Mexican Drug War

Thinking Long Term: Solutions to the Mexican Drug War

How can Mexico begin to heal?

My first installment offered some background on the Mexican drug war, including the history, scope and impact of the violence in Mexico. To briefly summarize: it’s bad. When I hear about the persistent problems plaguing Mexico, more than anything else, I feel frustrated. How can a democratic nation like Mexico, in 2015, allow drug cartels to pull the strings and manipulate the State? How can Mexico’s government stand idly by while the homicide rate and number of disappeared continue to climb?

When I first learned about the Argentine Dirty War, I could not believe that barely thirty years ago, a violent dictatorship claimed tens of thousands of lives. The Mexican drug war has shattered that record, and the conflict will likely continue for many years. We’re talking hundreds of thousands of disappeared Mexican citizens.

In the wake of my summer research about Mexican drug cartels, I find myself even more infuriated with the government than the criminal organizations that orchestrate this horrendous violence. The Mexican drug war emerged from deeply entrenched societal ills in Mexico, including wealth disparity, lack of education, and shoddy public safety.

The reality is that many cartels offer social services to Mexican communities that the government cannot provide. More than anything, they offer three very alluring things to young Mexican boys—wealth, protection, and brotherhood.

So. How should the Mexican government go about combating the problem it inadvertently helped to create?

Not by targeting cartel kingpins. Killing off the leaders of drug cartels has proven to increase violence by creating new, more bloodthirsty organizations out to make a name for themselves. For example, the Knights Templar emerged from the wreckage of La Familia Michoacana and went on to become one of the most sadistic cartels in Mexico.

Not through a heightened military presence in the country, either. The army and state police are responsible for extrajudicial executions of Mexican civilians and cartel members alike. Evidence has shown that on multiple occasions, police targeted and killed civilians who protested or expressed dissatisfaction with the government.

Not by legalizing marijuana—at least, not just by legalizing marijuana. Although legalizing weed in the U.S. has decreased cartel profits from the drug, it won’t fix everything. Since the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington, the DEA estimates that marijuana imports from Mexico have been cut by 40%. The cartels cannot compete with the quality and ease provided by medical and recreational marijuana stores. However, most cartels traffic hard drugs in addition to marijuana, most notably cocaine, heroin and methamphetamines. Recently cartels have found ways to refine opium paste to make cheaper and cleaner heroin. The DEA’s 2014 assessment showed that Mexican cartels are now responsible for half the heroin in the United States. While I have major issues with the “War On Drugs” in the U.S., something tells me legalizing heroin isn’t exactly on the table (although the DEA did allow Sinaloa to traffic drugs into the United States in exchange for information about rival cartels… read more about it here:

Another reason why legalizing drugs is not enough to extinguish drug-related violence is that extortion has become an independent source of revenue for cartels and may even be as lucrative as drug trafficking. Gangs and cartels have blackmailed Mexican civilians, farmers, and politicians for hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years. They have the men and the guns to back up their threats. Without relief from the police and the State, violence and extortion will remain ubiquitous in Mexico.

Mexico seriously needs to start thinking long term. I believe the nation’s only option is to start building security, social welfare safety nets, and trust in the government from the ground up. I by no means have all the answers. I acknowledge that I am just a white girl from California who has spent limited time in Mexico, and I cannot fully comprehend the ideologies and cultural forces that shape Mexican society. But I have compiled a series of long-term solutions—some gleaned from other articles, others self-generated—that I believe would help Mexico begin to heal itself.

Public officials and police:

  • Pay police officers more, offer substantial benefits, and shorten officers’ shifts. The local and state police are currently paid significantly less than other sectors and are often forced to work 50-hour weeks with no overtime pay. They and their families are also at great risk of retribution from the colleagues of cartel members they arrest or kill. In that position, I’d probably take a hundred thousand dollar bribe, too.
  • Overhaul the federal and local police forces to eliminate officers who have already been bought by drug cartels.
  • Revamp police training to emphasize gathering evidence for criminal investigations. Crimes go unpunished in Mexico partially because when police are called to the scene, they fail to collect evidence that often has mysteriously disappeared by the time the investigator arrives. (Recent reforms have actually implemented this.)
  • Conduct background checks on public officials, rather than relying on “proof of purity” letters that supposedly guarantee candidates’ freedom from association with criminal organizations.

Judicial reform:

  • Actually prosecute perpetrators of crimes, even (gasp!) rape and feminicide. Obviously this relies heavily on the thorough investigation of these crimes, which hopefully would follow police reform.
  • Implement the 2008 constitutional amendments that reform trial procedures for cartel members. For example, the new Article authorizes the detention of suspected cartel members in separate facilities from other prisoners and limits their communication with the outside world. These reforms are supposed to be enforced in every Mexican state by 2016.

Social reform:

  • Offer more social services in poor and rural areas. These reforms must be “place-conscious” and take into account the different needs of Mexico’s diverse populations.
  • Develop community education on sexual assault to shift cultural attitudes that reinforce the inferiority of women. This would not only lead to the successful prosecution of crimes against women, but also hopefully in time would reduce violence and alter the apathetic social response to it.
  • Pump more money into education for lower-income youth, including preschool-aged kids. Develop incentives to keep youth in school through age 18 and create more community organizations that aim to intercept young men before cartels can recruit them. (Cartels often target young people who show promise and leadership in school, youth groups, or church congregations.)

Lastly, and I cannot emphasize this enough, Mexico needs to take responsibility. Current President Enrique Peña Nieto has asked newspapers and television stations to censor their reports of violence in order to increase confidence in the government. This perpetuates the cycle of misinformation and distrust in the government. We need accurate statistics and we need them now.

It is scary to imagine five, ten, or twenty more years of this violence. But I believe the government has to start from the bottom—through political, judicial, and social reform—to build a healthy nation free from violence and fear.

Cover Image Credit:

Popular Right Now

To The Boy Who Will Love Me Next

If you can't understand these few things, leave before things get too involved

To the boy that will love me next, I need you to know and understand things about me and my past. The things I have been though not only have shaped the person I’ve become, but also sometimes controls my life. In the past I’ve been used, abused, and taken for granted, and I want something real this time. The guys before you were just boys; they didn’t know how to treat me until it was too late. They didn’t understand how to love me, until I broke my own heart. Before you truly decide to love me I want you to understand these things.

When I tell you something, please listen.

I’m my own person, I want to be loved a certain way. If I ask you to come over and watch movies with me please do it, if I ask for you to leave me alone for a few hours because it’s a girl’s night please do it. I don’t just say things to hear my own voice, I say things to you because it’s important to my life and the way I want to be loved. I’m not a needy person when it comes to being loved and cared for, but I do ask for you to do the small things that I am say.

Forgive my past.

My past is not a pretty brick road, it is a highway that has a bunch of potholes and cracks in it. I have a lot of baggage, and most of it you won’t understand. But don’t let my past decided whether you want to love me or not. My past has helped form who I am today, but it does not define who I am. My past experiences might try and make an appearance every once in a while, but I will not go back to that person I once was, I will not return to all that hurt I once went though. When I say those things, I’m telling the complete and honest truth. I relive my past every day, somethings haunt me and somethings are good reminds. But for you to love me, I need you to accept my past, present and future.

I’m just another bro to the other guys.

I have always hung out with boys, I don’t fit in with the girl groups. I have 10 close girlfriends, but the majority of my friends are guy, but don’t let this scare you. If I wanted to be with one of my guy friends I would already be with him, and if you haven’t noticed I don’t want them because I’m with you. I will not lose my friendships with all my guy friends to be able to stay with you. I will not cut off ties because you don’t like my guy friends. I have lost too many buddies because of my ex-boyfriends and I promised myself I wouldn’t do that again. If you don’t like how many guy friends I have you can leave now. Don’t bother trying to date me if you can accept the fact I’m just another bro.

I might be a badass, but I actually have a big heart.

To a lot of people I come off to be a very crazy and wild girl. I will agree I can be crazy and wild, but I’m more than that. I’m independent, caring, responsible, understanding, forgiving, and so such more type of woman. Many people think that I’m a badass because I don’t take any negatively from anyone. Just like we learned when we were younger, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.” Most people can’t do that in today’s world, so I stick up for myself and my friends. I don’t care what anyone thinks about me, or their option on how I live my life. The only thing I care about is being able to make myself happy. Even though I’m an independent woman, understand that I do have a big heart. Honesty when I truly care for someone I will do just about anything they ask, but don’t take advantage of this. Once you take advantage of this part of me, all respect will be lost for you.

I’m hard to love.

Sometimes I want to be cuddle and get attention, and sometimes I don’t want you to talk to me for a couple hours. Sometimes I want you to take me out for a nice meal, but sometimes I want a home cooked meal. Every day is different for me, sometimes I change my mind every hour. My mood swings are terrible on certain days, and on those days you should probably just ignore me. I’m not easy to love, so you’ll either be willing to find a way to love me, or you’ll walk out like so many others have.

I’m scared.

I’m scared to love someone again. I’ve been hurt, heartbroken, and beat to the ground in my past relationships. I want to believe you are different, I want to hope things will truly work out, but every relationship has always ended up the same way. I’m scared to trust someone, put my whole heart into them, just to be left and heartbroken again. I sick and tired of putting my whole body and soul into someone for them to just leave when it is convenient for them. If you want to love me, understand it won’t be easy for me to love you back.

When “I’m done.”

When I say “I’m done” I honestly don’t mean that I’m done. When I say that it means I need and want you to fight for me, show me why you want to be with me. I need you to prove that I’m worth it and there’s no one else but me. If I was truly done, I would just walk away, and not come back. So if I ever tell you, “I’m done,” tell me all the reasons why I’m truly not done.

For the boy who will love me next, the work is cut out for you, you just have to be willing to do it. I’m not like other girls, I am my own person, and I will need to be treated as such. For the boy that will love me next, don’t bother with me unless you really want to be with me. I don’t have time to waste on you if you aren’t going to try and make something out of us. To the boy who will love me next, the last thing I would like to say is good luck, I have faith in you.

Cover Image Credit: Danielle Balint

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Everything You Need To Know About The New Abortion Ban In Several States

DISCLAIMER: the following does not include any of my personal beliefs/opinions.


Abortion has and will always be a controversial and very sensitive topic for all genders. The following article delves into the details about the Alabama abortion ban that was signed to be a law which, if it passes, will be in effect January 2020 and briefly touches on the Georgia Heartbeat Bill.

Roe v. Wade (1973)

In 1973, Roe v. Wade 410 was passed in the U.S. by the Supreme Court. In short, this ruled that the Due Process Clause along with the 14th Amendment in the Constitution would work to give pregnant women the choice to choose whether or not they wanted an abortion AND should coincide with the government's personal agenda to protect the health of all who is involved. What I mean by this is that the Supreme Court decided during the second trimester of a pregnancy, abortions would be allowed. But, if it is the third trimester, abortion is to be prohibited unless the health of the mother is in danger. This law catapulted the abortion debate which is still going on today.

Abortion vs. Alabama

Alabama's governor, Kay Ivey, signed off on a bill that will basically ban all abortions, including rape, incest, any abnormality, and if the mother's life is in danger on May 14, 2019 after acquiring approval from 25 Senators . This could be a problem considering that it very much contradicts Roe v. Wade (1973). To Ivey, the bill is a reflection of the values in which the citizens of Alabama believe: all life is precious and a gift from God.

Governor of the State of Alabama, Kay Ivey (pictured above).

The governor of Georgia also signed a bill to ban abortion after detecting the slightest heartbeat which is approximately around the six-week pregnancy period (around the time most women discover that they are pregnant). Another important take on this is that despite the rift and debate that is going on between Democrats and Republicans, most Republicans believe that Roe v. Wade will be overturned. This is looking more like a possibility considering most of the Supreme Court consists of people who support the Republican party. In short, the main idea is to ban abortion in all of the United States, not just in some states like it is currently. In regards to Alabama, the bill still has not been enacted into a law and could possibly encounter delay in the Supreme Court because, after all, this is a very debated topic. For now, abortion is still legal until January 2020 or when it becomes a law.

Conditions of the Abortion Law

The conditions of the abortion law explicitly states that abortion during any stage of a pregnancy is prohibited and if any medical professional aids in the practice/procedure of an abortion, they will face up to 99 years in prison. If an attempt is made to perform an abortion procedure, an individual can be sentenced to 10 years in prison. Women who successfully get an abortion or attempt to will be prosecuted as well. However, only those who provide another with an abortion will be punished in Alabama, not the one receiving the service.

No form of abortion is allowed including: rape, incest, life-threatening abnormality, or putting the life of the mother in danger.

Alabama expected to approve controversial abortion bill

Two Sides to the Debate

Although most Republicans support the law, the Democratic party has combatted the notion of it. Many opponents of the ban state that the restriction can put the lives of many in danger and affects women of color and those who are living in poverty heavily. ACLU and the Center for Reproductive Rights have also declared that they will sue. Many young people have also reached out to social media websites such as Twitter and Instagram to voice their opinions:

Tweets from individuals who are anti-abortion ban

Many celebrities have also stated their opinions on the matter. Rihanna stated in one of her Instagram posts, "Take a look," referring to a picture of 25 Senators in Alabama who approved the abortion bill, "These are the idiots making decisions for WOMEN in America. Governor Kay Ivey...SHAME ON YOU!!!"

Although both sides clearly have their opinions on the debate of pro-life/pro-choice, one thing we all can agree on is that this will be a long process that can make or break the lives of a lot of people in our nation.

Until next time,


Related Content

Facebook Comments