by Nick Murray, The Daily Grito
Seems as though after 5 years of watching their government fight the drug cartels’ fire with fire, Mexicans are beginning to reject President Calderon’s security strategy. Although they may have not found another solution, I imagine we will see a realignment of the parties and a different approach to dealing with the large-scale illegal drug markets that fund Mexico’s most dangerous criminal enterprises.
But while Mexicans may be willing to reject the use of direct force against the cartels, citizens of Guatemala may be craving the swift fist of justice to quell the recent rise in violence there (murders rose 15% in 2008). Less than 2 weeks ago Guatemalans voted to elect retired general and former intelligence director Otto Perez Molina by 54%. Molina campaigned on his “iron-fist” approach to fighting crime that, coupled with his extensive military background during Guatemala’s bloody civil war, gave desperate Guatemalans a choice to restore order to the country ravaged by drug violence. As interdiction by US and Mexican law enforcement has intensified through the Colombian connection to Miami and the Gulf of Mexico, cartels have been forced to concentrate trafficking through Central America; the lush forests of Guatemala provide the perfect cover. No doubt, it will prove a difficult task for newly-elected President Molina to take on the cartels with a public safety budget that some say is already spread too thin. Pressure on Colombia caused some suppliers to uproot and produce directly in Mexico.
The “Golden Triangle,” the meeting of Durango, Chihuahua and Sinaloa states provides a supreme growing climate for cannabis and opium poppies. This coupled with the proximity to the US gives illicit growers an opportunity to streamline their supply routes, but could also lead to increased violence in the Triangle as government troops ramp up their efforts in more concentrated areas.