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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Urges Restraint in Hong Kong Protests

Protesters angered by Beijing's decision to only approve candidates that it sanctions for Hong Kong's leadership elections in 2017 More

Archive of Forgotten UCLA Speeches Offers Snapshot of History

Recordings of prominent voices in social change, politics, science and literature from 1960s, early 1970s now available on YouTube 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.
Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenyai
X
Gabe Joselow
September 29, 2014 6:20 PM
Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Video

Video Reconstruction? What Reconstruction? Life After War in Gaza

It’s been a month since Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a ceasefire to end 52 days of an air and tank war that left 60,000 homes in Gaza damaged or destroyed and 110,000 homeless. Sharon Behn reports that lack of reconstruction is leading to despair.
Video

Video US, Saudi Arabia and UAE Hit Islamic State's Oil Revenue

The United States, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have bombed oil facilities operated by Islamic State militants in Syria. It was a truly collaborative effort, with the two Arab countries dropping the majority of the bombs. The 12 refineries targeted were estimated to generate as much as $2 million per day for the terrorist group. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb has the story.
Video

Video Russia's Food Sanctions Raise Price Worries, Hopes for Domestic Production

Russia retaliated against Western sanctions imposed for its actions in Ukraine by halting food imports from the West. The temporary import ban on food from Australia, the European Union, Norway and North America has Russian consumers concerned that they could face a sharp increase in food prices. But in an ironic twist, the restrictions aimed at the Kremlin have made Russia's domestic food producers hopeful this can boost their business. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Washington to Pyongyang: 'Shut This Evil System Down'

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is calling on North Korea to shut down prison camps and other human rights abuses following a United Nations Commission of Inquiry into "widespread and systematic human rights violations." VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid

More Americas News

US Judge Holds Argentina in Contempt Over Bond Payment Plan

In rare move, District Judge Thomas Griesa says country taking 'illegal' steps to evade his orders in longstanding dispute with hedge funds over defaulted debt
More

Brazil's Rousseff Extends Lead Over Silva in Elections

President Dilma Rousseff's expected victory margin over closest rival Marina Silva has surged to 9 percentage points
More

8 Killed in Peru Quake

The victims of the 4.9-magnitude tremor were all from the mountainous community of Misca, where many homes collapsed in the quake
More

S. Africa Gives Cuba $31 Million Economic Aid

South African President Jacob Zuma pledged the money to Cuba in 2010, but its implementation was delayed for several years
More

At UN, Indigenous Forest Peoples Express Folk Spirituality, 'Green' Values'

Over 1,000 delegates were invited to a UN conference to share perspectives on 'best practices' to ensure indigenous rights worldwide.
More

Venezuela Suffers Another Blackout

South American OPEC member nation seeing increasing power cuts in recent years, labeled as evidence of mismanagement by the socialist authorities
More