Here we have Genaro García Luna telling us that the cartels use violence to magnify their power, to intimidate the population, and to scare the government into laying off of them. This concept --that an increased willingness to resort to violence does not mean that the cartels are growing more powerful-- has to be a part of the government's case to the public for an aggressive posture, and this is a more artful expression of the idea than, "violence is a sign of the cartels' weakness." But even if García Luna's right, if the cartels really are attacking because they feel threatened, I'm not sure it matters. In the long run, the level of violence is the most important indicator of success in the struggles with the cartels. So, drug runners may be poorer and weaker and more vulnerable to arrest, but if they are killing more each year, does it matter?
The second piece is a column by Lorenzo Córdova, who's pessimistic about "winning" the war on drugs, but still looking for solutions.
It seems to me that as long as the demand of drugs from our neighbors to the North --the world's principal consumers-- stays level, and the prohibition of the use of drugs continues, turning drug trafficking into a business more profitable than all but a few, seeking to win this war is nothing more than a nice intention.Amen, that's the right mindset to have. As frustrating as it is to hear officials talks as if the cartels can be defeated, too often people use the general futility of the drug wars to excuse inaction or to invalidate new tactics. Mexico's drug cartels will almost certainly exist in some form or another until Americans stop snorting and smoking, but that doesn't mean the Mexican state is entirely powerless. I happen to disagree with Córdova about the use of the army (later in the column, he expresses his opposition), but that's an issue about which reasonable people can disagree.
Let's be clear, I don't mean to say that with this phenomenon there's no other exit besides crossing our arms and surrendering before the evident [power of the cartels]... The state must combat of organized crime, but to be successful it requires a rational policy that is conscious of its intrinsic limitations and the complexity of the problem.