Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Interpreting the Violence

Between Calderon's speech/op-ed, the recent spike in mass killings, and the general desire to comment on the nation's constant bothers, now is even a better time than usual for commentary on insecurity. From Ricardo Pascoe Pierce:
This governmental decision [to make the Zetas the priority for the government] has been complemented by others, from various drug cartels operating in Mexico, also considering the Zetas the biggest problem for their business, because drug trafficking also operates within certain ranges of social acceptability. That's why prominent members of the cartels seek "social acceptability" and appear in magazines, hold court on their social worries and offer solutions for the country. Part of the business is being accepted as a supplier of a product with a certain level of tolerance between the different socioeconomic strata. The perception that a product originates from a trail of violence, death, illegality and lack of acceptance is not, without a doubt, very good for business. So, in the "serious" cartels, the unhinged violence is in every way a business problem.

There exists, therefore, an uncomfortable but explainable confluence between the objectives of the federal government and some cartels. They are united in their determination to annihilate the Zetas. Once this issue is resolved, which could be this year and, as a result, there could be a significant reduction in violence in the country, the federal government and the cartels will have to adapt to a new environment.
What follows is a call to consider legalizing certain drugs. It seems as though the reality is a lot messier than the scenario Pascoe paints and the Zetas are arguably not as a big a driver of violence as he indicates, nor is it entirely clear that the government can or will concentrate all its efforts on eliminating the Zetas. But something like what he describes seems to be happening (what with the Gulf-Sinaloa alliance). Insofar as it reflects a recognition by the government that it needs to pick its spots and concentrate its efforts on certain gangs and regions, this is a good thing. Hopefully it does indeed lead to less violence.

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