News / Americas

Horrific Violence in Mexico Likely to Affect July Presidential Election

Federal police on vehicles escort the three forensic trucks where bodies were placed after dozens of bodies, some of them mutilated, were found on a highway connecting the northern Mexican metropolis of Monterrey to the U.S. border in the town of San Juan
Federal police on vehicles escort the three forensic trucks where bodies were placed after dozens of bodies, some of them mutilated, were found on a highway connecting the northern Mexican metropolis of Monterrey to the U.S. border in the town of San Juan
Greg Flakus
HOUSTON, TEXAS - The discovery of 49 decapitated and handless corpses on a highway near the city of Monterrey, in Mexico's northern Nuevo Leon state on Sunday, has drawn attention once again to the brutal drug war that has claimed more than 50,000 lives in that Latin American nation during the past six years.  Shortly before the discovery in Monterrey, dozens of bodies were found in the border city of Nuevo Laredo and in the central city of Guadalajara.

In Nuevo Leon, authorities are investigating the brutal slaughter of 43 men and six women, whose identities are difficult to establish, according to state public security spokesman Jorge Domene.

None of them have heads, he explains, and the bodies are so mutilated that forensic experts might not be able to establish who they were.

Domene says signs left near the bodies indicate that credit for the mass killing is being claimed by Los Zetas, a paramilitary group that started out a decade ago as part of the Gulf cartel in northeastern Mexico, and then went into drug smuggling on its own.

“In the past, the cartels were largely concerned about doing business," says George Grayson of the College of William and Mary in Virginia, a leading expert on Mexico, who has been following the drug wars closely. "They would kill if they had to, but they were looking at the bottom line. Now comes a group like Los Zetas who seem to relish executing people in the most sadistic, brutal and fiendish fashion.”

For the past few years, the once relatively prosperous and peaceful city of Monterrey has become a war zone between Los Zetas and the powerful Sinaloa cartel, which is run by fugitive Joaquin “Chapo” Guzman.

Analyst George Grayson says people in Monterrey want the return of law and order.  Although northern Mexico has often favored the ruling National Action Party, or PAN, Grayson says public opinion surveys show voters there and in many other parts of Mexico might now look to the Institutional Revolutionary Party, or PRI, to stop the violence.

“People really feel that they are involved in a crisis situation and that is the number one factor that respondents report as to why they will vote for the PRI on July 1,” said Grayson.

The PRI held uninterrupted power in Mexico for more than 70 years until 2000, when PAN candidate Vicente Fox was elected president. He was followed by the PAN's Felipe Calderon, the country's current president.  Calderon began his six-year term in December, 2006 by declaring war on organized crime, sending military units to capture or kill major drug cartel figures, something George Grayson says led to more violence.

“Every time you decapitate a cartel, the kingpin's lieutenants engage in a power struggle for dominance," he said. "Moreover, rival criminal organizations then move into the turf of the displaced leader and, finally, the extremely violent gangs begin to act up.”

Grayson notes it will be difficult to curb the violence, no matter who wins the presidential election. He says the new president will have to rely more on developing intelligence and police investigative skills and less on deploying troops around the country.

“I think it is going to be using a more scalpel-like approach and, perhaps, laying aside the broad sword, although he will still need to have the military in place because Mexico does not have an honest police force,” added Grayson.

The corrupting power of illicit drug trade profits has undermined many efforts to professionalize Mexican police forces. The original members of Los Zetas, for example, were from an elite military unit. Experts on Mexico's drug trafficking note that in past years, gangs usually disposed of bodies in clandestine graves, whereas they now hang them from bridges or dump them at busy intersections.  They say these gruesome public displays are warnings to rivals and demonstrations that the killers have little fear of being caught and held accountable for their crimes.

You May Like

India PM Modi's Party Distances Itself From Religious Conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Tourism, Farm Groups See Bigger Business With Cuba

'We are the closest major food producer that Cuba has,' an American Farm Bureau Federation spokesman notes
More

Castro Lauds US Outreach, Says Cuba to Remain Communist

In speech to lawmakers, Cuba's president says economic reforms will be accelerated, yet changes will be gradual
More

Raul Castro Steps Out of Brother's Shadow With US Deal

Cuban president scores diplomatic triumph, surge in support with this week's deal that ends decades of hostility with United States
More

US Report: Immigration Officials' Apprehensions Rose in 2014

Apprehensions of Mexicans fall 14 percent; those of individuals from other countries, predominantly in Central America, rise 68 percent
More

Strife, Mutual Interests Mark Cuba-US Ties

Island nation was once a vacation destination for Americans; over years, many Cubans sought refuge across the Florida Straits
More

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change
More