If you haven’t noticed, Juarez and many other Mexican cities are facing a violent crisis. The drug cartels are so well funded and armed that they can bribe officials and even threaten police chiefs into retirement. The drugs moved by the traffickers can, of course, cause harm, but Mexico’s problem isn’t a “drug problem” but rather a prohibition problem.
The relatively rich people of U.S. and Canada create a huge demand for drugs, both government regulated and illegal. By waging war on some drugs, we outsource much of our illegal drug production to South America. Mexico has traditionally given lip service to our prohibition, but not devoted much to the effort in practice, forcing the U.S. deal with the problem on our side of the border and in Colombia. This allowed the cartels to work in relative peace for many years, but this was still unacceptable to former president Vicente Fox. Fox battled the cartels and managed to unseat a few kingpins, which only led to more violence. When Calderón replaced Fox in 2006, he declared his own war on the cartels, calling in federal troops to replace the police and greatly escalating the war.
U.S. officials and drug warriors, of course, find the violence acceptable. “There will be more violence, more blood, and, yes, things will get worse before they get better. That’s the nature of the battle,” said U.S. Ambassador Tony Garza. (Would these people find it acceptable if thousands of U.S. citizens were dying and living in a police state to prohibit sales of goods to Canadians?)
A Solution for the People of Mexico
It is not your money, guns, or addictions that are feeding the violence in your country. I propose that you end the war on your fellow citizens.
- Create a license to legally produce and traffic “illegal” drugs strictly for export to the U.S.
- Allow licensees to freely operate, but with taxes and rules, while continuing to fight unlicensed organizations.
- Allow law-based disagreement resolution mechanisms and revoke licenses from organizations linked to violence.
In other words, you should make your narcotraficante industry look more like UPS and Budweiser than Al Capone’s Chicago Outfit.
Resistance to such a policy would come primarily from key players in the drug war. Your cartels will want to maintain control, but their profits will die as non-violent businessmen take up licenses and take their business. Our DEA may suggest closing your border or even replacing your government by force; we’ve done it before.
In the end you’ll have to decide what is in the best interest of your people. Is it worth their lives and the very stability of your government to prevent Michael Phelps from hitting a bong?