Rising drug homicides "sign of progress" says former U.S. enforcement czar.
Immigration rights activists are facing a national security argument for militarization of the U.S. - Mexico border. According to former drug war czar Robert Bonner, writing in the current Foreign Affairs, “if the drug cartels succeed, the United States will share a 2,000 mile border with a narco-state controlled by powerful transnational drug cartels that threaten the stability of Central and South America.” As a July 17 La Opinion headline blared, “Mexico Entra an La Era de Los Coches-bomba.”
Bonner calls for turning Mexico into the next Colombia in the counter-narcotics and counter-insurgency wars being funded through Plan Merida. With US-backing, the Mexican army has escalated the battle against drug cartels at a human cost of 24,826 lives since December 2006, including 9,000 in 2009, and 7,048 so far this year. (La Opinion, July 17) “The increase in the number of drug-related homicides, although unfortunate, is a sign of progress,” he claims, because the pressure is forcing cartel members to kill each other.
The US role currently includes billions in funding for Project Merida, with most of the funds currently going for military equipment. Forty-five thousand Mexican soldiers are deployed in conflict zones like Ciudad Juarez. The US is sending 4,000 troops to the border area. Extraditions of drug offenders to the US have leaped to 144 under the Calderon government, up from six a decade ago. Joint task forces have multiplied.
Bonner fears that Mexican public opinion is turning against the military strategy. He condemns the proposal by former foreign minister Jorge Castenada for “tacit deals” with the cartels aimed at violence reduction. Instead, the cartels have to be destroyed in the same process inflicted on Colombia, where he says the drug war has been successful though bloody. Bonner makes no mention of the ongoing counterinsurgency in Colombia where at least 600 American troops and contractors are deployed, hundreds of trade unionists murdered, and the government and armed forces, despite years of reform, still retain links to the drug economy. In Bonner’s sunny view of the Mexican future, “once the cartels are broken, public safety and security will follow, just like Colombia.”
For more, please see "Into the Quagmire: Colombia and the War on Drugs."