The Power of Drugs

Daniel Barba Almeida, Graphic Design
February 14, 2012

Every day in Mexican Newspapers we read headlines like, “Decapitated head was found by the police in the state of Morelos,” “Shooting in the middle of Leon, Guanajuato City left two dead officers and several arrested criminals” and “Narcofosa (clandestine cemetery) on Piedras Negras, Coahuila may contain the remains of 38 bodies.”

These events are the unequivocal proof of the increasing force of the drug cartels throughout Mexican territory. The United States and the Mexican governments have been trying to stop this bloody war with more guns, police forces and violence, but this violent response has been useless.

The increasing consumption of drugs in the U.S. has given the drug cartels an endless income, allowing them to develop more creative ways to transport drugs from Mexico to the U.S. Although both countries have invested millions of dollars in armament to stop organized crime, they have been blind to one obvious solution: education.

When the President of Mexico, Felipe Calderon Hinojosa, began his administration in December 2006, he declared a direct attack on the drug cartels. The president’s declaration wasn’t taken well by the criminals, so they started a wave of violence to prove Mexico belongs to them.

On Sept. 15, 2008, in Morelia, Michoacán, two hand grenades were detonated in the middle of a crowd during the celebration of Mexican Independence. Three people died, and 132 were injured. The Mexican authorities blame the drug cartel Los Zetas, a bloody criminal organization formed by ex-members of the special Mexican forces. These mercenaries have been accused of several crimes like burning a casino with people inside and executing 72 peasants in Tamaulipas in 2010.

On Oct. 25, 2010 in Tijuana, an armed squad burst into the Rehabilitation Center El Camino, killing 13 patients. After the incident, the Juarez drug cartel interrupted the police radio frequency and took responsibility for the attack. Also, the drug cartel threatened to kill 134 persons for the 135 tons of marijuana confiscated by the authorities.

The Mexican government is facing a terrible enemy, and is fighting fire with fire; however, after all these years and despite U.S. support, Mexico is losing the battle.

On the other side of the border, Americans have been part of the growing power of the drug cartels due to their increasing consumption of drugs. A survey by The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) showed that in 2010, 22.6 million people 12 years and older used drugs, especially marijuana. Besides, between 2008 and 2010 the white population increased its consumption from 8.2 percent to 9.1 percent and Hispanic population consumption rose from 6.2 percent to 8.1 percent.

Drug cartels see the American people as big fat clients, so they use every kind of resource available to pass drugs from Mexico to the U.S. For example, to avoid American security, drug cartels have been building narcotúneles, underground roads that cross the border between the two countrie. They have beenalso  building their own custom-made submarines too, designed to avoid radar, sonar and infrared systems. Also, they send 5 million cars, 1.5 million trucks, and 3.9 million people to cross the frontier with tons of drugs in them every year.

In spite of the fact that President Barack Obama has invested more money in armaments to Mexico and security to protect the borders, the consumption of drugs hasn’t stooped, and now the criminals are getting rich with bloody money.

Despite the violent efforts of both countries to end the war against drugs, the expensive alternatives have been useless and have marked both nations. The governments have to take a different approach; they need educate their people.

The people who join drug cartels are poor teenagers, without opportunities and lack identity. Drug cartels take advantage of them by offering these lost kids easy money, a limitless life and a glorious way to die.

The Mexican government has to understand that educated young people have more determination to reject a dishonest path and more opportunities for a successful life. Instead of buying more AK-47’s, military choppers or ammunitions, both governments, American and Mexican, have to invest in quality education, programs to keep young people far away from drugs and counselors to help unprivileged teenagers. Mexico and the U.S. are losing the battle because they are giving guns to their population instead of books.

This dreadful war, where thousands have died, doesn’t have a magic answer. However, the best alternative is not to shoot each other; it is to teach that criminal life is not exciting or glamorous, and working with drug cartels is a death sentence.

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