Military Force Isn’t the Answer in Mexico’s Drug Wars

The Oct. 31 editorial “Mexico’s massacres” correctly asserted that the United States is helping Mexican drug-trafficking gangs “through demand for drugs and supply of guns.” In fact, the Obama administration has admitted this repeatedly, but it has done little or nothing to “restore the ban on sales of assault weapons,” for which Mexican President Felipe Calderon has pleaded. The editorial said that “Mexicans might be excused for wishing that something would wake Americans up,” such as violence spilling across in the border to cities such as El Paso and San Diego. That is wrong.

What Mexicans such as me really want is for the United States to stop using taxpayer dollars to fund military intervention in the ill-conceived “war on drugs.” As independent Mexican and U.S. organizations have widely reported, this war has a heavy human rights cost. The military has participated in the killing of civilians and terrorized entire communities. That’s why it was withdrawn from Ciudad Juarez in the first place. Far from “courageous,” as the editorial called it, Mr. Calderon’s launching of the war against traffickers was like hitting a beehive with a stick – without a plan for what to do next. After four years, the government still doesn’t have a plan. There is, instead, only growing desperation.

The Washington Post published this letter in its Sunday, Nov. 7, 2010 print edition.

Manuel Perez-Rocha is an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.