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Belmont Club

The southern neighbor

March 29th, 2009 - 9:13 pm

Pundita says Mexico is in a worse way than the administration is willing to admit; that the current policy of propping up the government in Mexico City will at some point run the risk of failing. In her view the time for reform is long overdue in Mexico.

Mr Calderón has shown surprising and admirable courage in confronting drug lords and corrupt officials, but he must find even more courage and get the elite to turn out their pockets more. What must NOT be done, and which Hillary Clinton is already offering to do, is for the U.S. to hurl more aid at Mexico to help the government build up the middle class and needed infrastructure. No; that’s the job of Mexico’s elite. If the U.S. keeps doing their job for them, they’ll never find the impetus to change.

From his letter, clearly Obrador wants more U.S. development aid for Mexico, but surely he’s aware that this business of the U.S. throwing Mexico aid, combined with remittances, has only helped to keep the elite off the hook. So any additional U.S. aid — no matter how worthy the project — should be tied to real political change in Mexico.

The AP has a combat-style story entitled “With Mexico’s army in the war on drugs”. But how much of it is headline grabbing crime reporting and how much indicative of a problem that threatens to swallow the Mexican state?

The Associated Press spent five days on the front line of Mexico’s drug war, embedded with the army’s 8th Division in Tamaulipas state, one of many organized-crime hotspots now policed by 45,000 troops nationwide. Launched by President Felipe Calderon in December 2006, the army is Mexico’s last and best hope to gain control over drug cartels and spiraling violence, which have killed more than 9,000 people since then.

But the AP’s exclusive front-row seat reveals the army offensive to be at once successful and imperfect, marred by police corruption, lack of training and local distrust. As Calderon has said, it’s a temporary fix. There’s still not a long-term solution. … “Here you can’t call police,” says army Capt. Huascar Santiago, “because they’re in collusion.”

How bad is Mexico? Is there any way to objectively know? What indicators ought one watch to know the true state of play there? Open thread.

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