News / Americas

Latest Violence in Mexico Underscores Problems, Tensions

State police stand guard at the site where at least five bodies were found in a clandestine grave on the outskirts of Mexico City, February 27, 2011
State police stand guard at the site where at least five bodies were found in a clandestine grave on the outskirts of Mexico City, February 27, 2011

Multimedia

Robert Raffaele

More drug violence in Mexico in recent weeks is focusing new attention on that nation's anti-drug efforts, and U.S. cooperation in the fight.  Mexican officials say soldiers uncovered a mass grave Tuesday containing at least 17 bodies in Guerrero. A recent attack on two U.S. immigration agents, killing one of them, is adding to concerns on both sides of the border. Some experts say progress will depend on bolstering Mexico's law enforcement and its courts.

A chilling reminder of the ever-present danger in the war on drugs unfolded in northern Mexico on February 15, when two U.S. immigration and customs agents were shot by gunmen while driving through northern Mexico. One agent died, the other was wounded.

That attack came during a recent surge in the violence among Mexico's rival drug gangs and is the latest incident adding to tensions between U.S. and Mexican officials.

In  a recent interview in the Mexican newspaper El Universal, Mexican President Felipe Calderon again blamed the United States for not doing more to reduce the demand for drugs, or the flow of guns into Mexico.

Calderon also expressed anger about U.S. cables - leaked by the WikiLeaks website - in which U.S. diplomats gave unflattering assessments of the Mexican government's security efforts. He accused the diplomats of exaggerating their concerns to impress their bosses.

U.S. office of National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske said the United States has two key goals in the cross-border war on drugs.

"That goal of reducing violence is actually critical. The other goal that I would see as a marked measure of success would be to move away from the military doing policing and to have civilian policing that is not only able to handle the job, but civilian policing that is seen as trusted, professional and competent."

The Woodrow Wilson Center's Mexico Institute director, Andrew Selee, said the lack of credibility of police with the Mexican public is just one of several problems.

"Secondly, prosecutions - prosecutors tend not to take most of the cases to court. There is limited ability to gather evidence in a way that allows credible prosecutions and there is a lot of corruption within prosecutors' offices and people get off pretty easily. And finally there is the judicial system itself. The court system itself is not terribly credible. There is huge weight given to the prosecutors when they do bring a case in.  Judges rarely see the defendants and it is very easy in many cases to buy off the clerks of the court," said Selee.

Selee said Mexico has undertaken what he calls good constitutional reforms to bolster the rule of law. He added that the United States can provide assistance in key areas, including police forensics and advice from American judges and prosecutors.

"I mean, a chance to have a dialogue with people to really help Mexican counterparts innovate in their job and develop the kind of pride in the work that they do - by working with their U.S. counterparts. And that is the kind of thing that is beyond what the U.S. federal government does.  This is being done in many cases by local jurisdictions, by state prosecutors, by local prosecutors, by judges on their own initiative and it is a fabulous way for the two countries to work together on rule of law."

That emphasis on rule of law cannot come quickly enough in Mexico. Since Felipe Calderon became President in 2006 and began his crackdown on drug cartels, more than 34,000 people have been killed in Mexico.

You May Like

Multimedia US Defense Secretary: Iraqi Forces Lack 'Will to Fight'

Ash Carter criticizes Iraq's reaction to Islamic State; National Security Advisor Susan Rice echoed Carter's concerns in an interview on CBS More

Boko Haram Surrounds Havens With Land Mines

Chad and Cameroon say huge numbers of land mines planted by Boko Haram fighters along Cameroon's border with Nigeria are a danger to people, livestock and soldiers More

Women Peace Activists Cross Korean DMZ

Governments of Koreas give international delegation of women peace activists permission to pass through heavily fortified border, but some critics say symbolic crossing only benefits Pyongyang More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs

More Americas News

Pope Beatifies Murdered Salvadoran Archbishop

Hundreds of thousands of worshippers converge on Salvadoran capital to witness papal declaration for late Oscar Romero - now one step from Roman Catholic sainthood
More

Scores Killed in Western Mexico Gunfight

Officials say almost every person killed in Michoacan state shootout was a suspected gang member
More

Latest US-Cuban Talks Ends in Washington

Both sides cite progress on restoring diplomatic ties, but no final agreement reached
More

Tutu Lends Support to Age Campaign

Help Age International has launched Action 2015 campaign
More

Colombia Kills 18 FARC Rebels

The bombing raid took place in the Cauca region of western Colombia
More

Lawmakers Question Normalization Effort With Cuba

On eve of next round of US-Cuba talks, Senator Bob Menendez calls engagement 'one-sided'
More