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

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Arkansas, North Carolina have approved similar laws that gay-marriage opponents say help maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals 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.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

More Americas News

Peru's PM, Government to Resign After Censure Vote

Move delivers a blow to President Ollanta Humala, who will now have to form another new government
More

Argentine Workers Strike Over Income Tax Rate

With economy already weak, public transport stops, many businesses close and garbage piles up on one-day walkout
More

Tickets Go on Sale for 2016 Rio Olympics

More than half of the 7.5 million tickets will cost 70 Brazilian reais ($22) or less
More

US, Cuba Hold First Formal Talks on Human Rights

Issue contentious for conservative Republicans as President Barack Obama seeks to restore diplomatic ties
More

US State Dept Official: Cuba Aims to Ramp Up Internet Access

Cuba, a few decades late to the Internet era, is committed to getting the web into 50 percent of its households by 2020, a senior official said on Monday
More

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

World's largest gamma ray observatory will be situated high in Sierra Negra Mountain to discover secrets about black holes and supernovas
More