Page 11

Newly-appointed Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano insists that the violence in Mexico has “not yet crossed the border.” Yet there are reports of kidnappings and brutal murders tied to drug cartels in scattered incidents throughout the country. The Department of Justice estimates that Mexican cartels have a presence in 230 US cities from Anchorage to Atlanta. Thus far, 70 Americans have been kidnapped on both US and Mexican soil. In Phoenix, the city with the highest security threat from Mexican drug violence, kidnappings have risen 40 percent since last year. And if the Mexican government, or currently the majority of the Mexican army, fails to contain the cartels, the violence may spill over in the form of hundreds of millions of refugees eeing from what is bound to be an international crisis of epic proportions. In addition, as cartels become more successful at manipulating the Mexican government and ghting multilateral efforts to stop the ow of drugs across the border, the market for cartels will only grow larger, wealthier, and more powerful. The implications for the

massive population of drug consumers and ordinary citizens are fearful at best. What is rather confounding is that as this violence has been on the rise, American money allotted to ghting drugs has radically increased as well. Obama promises to continue the his predecessors’ policy of allotting federal money to fund increased border protection, strengthen the Mexican army, and abate the inux of heavy weapons from the US to Mexican and Latin American cartels. The last stimulus plan dedicated $600 million to bolster border security, in hopes of preventing a spillover of drug violence and the smuggling of an estimated 28,000 weapons over the border. Current Mexican President Felipe Calderon has dedicated nearly 30,000 Mexican troops to restore order in the towns that have been the most affected, some of which have been without law enforcement for nearly a year. Calderon himself has claimed that recent years have accounted for the highest drug seizures and arrest rates. Despite the amount of money and effort that both countries have put in, drug

violence will inevitably get worse or at least continue. As a recent article in The Economist shows, the fundamentals of the drug market rest on the presence of immense efforts to curb drug use, thus making the price of the drugs higher as the danger of transporting them increases. The markup on the price of illegal drugs from the risks taken to transport them is the largest source of wealth for these drug cartels. As more and more drugs are seized due to an expansion of efforts, the risk and, thus the markup, grows exponentially. This can only amount to more wealth and power for men like “El Charo” because demand in the United States for illegal drugs has not declined. According to The Economist, the failure to understand this business model of increased profits from enlarged efforts sheds a dim light on Mexico’s prospects for restoration of control. The question that has been left to US policymakers is whether to continue to throw money at what they consider a security threat or to end the age of prohibition for good. O

MARCO KALLMAN April 6, 2009

THE OBSERVER

9

Spring 2009 - Issue 6  

Tufts Observer (Volume CXVIII Issue 6)

Spring 2009 - Issue 6  

Tufts Observer (Volume CXVIII Issue 6)