Situation in Mexico

In July 2006, President Felipe Calderón was elected. In December, he took office. December 11 of that year marks the beginning of the war on drug with the deployment of 6500 federal troops. Today, more than 45.000 troops and law enforcement officers fight the Cartels. More than 23.000 people have already lost their lives directly because of the conflict. The bordering city of Ciudad Juárez is a war zone where even consular personnel from the United States of America are killed.

Much of the media attention is directed to the northern border region of Mexico. It is mainly by this area that drug cross to the United States. Mexico is a large producer of cannabis, methamphetamine, and now, also heroin. This implies production and distribution throughout the country. However, the cartels are also very active in the ports of entry of South American drugs, mainly cocaine. The major entrance points are Cancún, Playa del Carmen and Acapulco, places heavily visited by tourists.

On a regular basis, Mexico blames the United States for its problems with the war on drug. One of these reproaches being that the drug use in the United States is the source of it all. To be honest, the American’s didn’t start all of a sudden to massively use drugs in 2006. Moreover, Mexican national consumption seems to do very well on its own. Another criticism is the sale of assault weapons in the United States which then crosses to Mexico. Although it is undeniable that this traffic exists, if one looks at the photographs of busts, among rifles, we finds many weapons of Russian origins, as well as grenades and rocket launcher. None of these can be purchased legally in the USA. This shows, quickly and simply, the dogmatism of the accusations put forward by President Felipe Calderón.

In Forbes list of the World’s 100 most powerful people, position 41 goes to Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, a leader of the Mexican Cartels. The money flowing from the cartels benefits the regime in power. The law enforcement representatives are sometimes more crooked than the criminals they’re supposed to stop. The honest officers who dare to speak against their colleague are seriously reprimanded and thus, prefer to stay silent. The Cartels has infiltrated all layers of the legal system and can now act in pure impunity.

This drug war and the politico-economic situation are profoundly changing the country. Since 2007, changes are can be felt in all spheres of society. Unfortunately, they are not changes for best. Rise of corruption, rise of crime rates, rise of poverty, of the cost of living… all of the potentially explosive ingredients for any society.

Diplomatic press like Foreign policy reflects what have been said in the diplomatic circles for more than a year: Mexico is on the road to become a failed state, if it’s not already one. Although the term can be perceived as being a little strong, that does not change anything in regard to the current reality of the country and the concerns it brings. Corruption reached record levels and it has infiltrated everything. This represents one of the biggest threats to the establishment of a stable democracy. The violence topping itself every single day also pushes the country into chaos and anarchy.

Freedom of speech is as well in pretty bad shape. Journalism is a dangerous profession, especially for those against the regime, the cartels or both. Some journalists successfully leave the country and receive the refugee status because their life is really in danger. According to Reporters sans frontières, in 2006, Mexico was the most dangerous country to be a journalist after Iraq.

The failures of the justice system in Mexico are increasingly exposed. For example, the case of Florence Cassez, a 35 year old Frenchwoman sentenced to 60 years in prison in Mexico. She was the subject of an allegedly false arrest, false witnesses and so on, orchestrated by no less than Garcia Luna, currently Secretary of Public Security in Calderón’s regime. She’s deprived of her freedom being locked up since 2005. Support groups were created in Europe, South America and in Canada. This situation is on the way to become a massive diplomatic incident between France (which still protect its citizens) and Mexico. (See the video made for Florence)

The regime does not impose, furthermore discourages, its various institutions to keep statistics on crime. Despite this, private corporations keep a statistical tab with the help of the events reported in the media and other information sources. Prominix, based in Monterrey, produces reports on this subject. These figures make it possible to have an idea, but with rates of unreported crime estimated at 88% in cities like Cancún, and at a national average of 85%, we have only a weak idea of the real situation. The rate of homicide saw a slight fall in the middle of the last decade, only to grow back again, stronger. This growth was rather stable, then, in the first six months of 2009 a whooping increase of more than 40% in homicides could be observed. The rate of homicide oscillates around 12 homicides for 100.000 inhabitants in 2008. Mexico is in the 6 highest positions in the list of homicides rates for countries that are not at war. In the United States, this rate is 6 and in Canada, under 2. On the date of Mrs. Wathelet’s murder, the State of Quinata Roo was ranking 8 th in Mexico with a rate of 15.2. The northern Mexican States like Sinaloa won the grand prize with 43.7 and Chihuahua good second with 42.1. Ciudad Juárez is in this last State.

Through all Mexico, Quintana Roo remains the most violent State in term of crime against people, equal with Baja California. Quintana Roo is the Mexican capital of rape, 4th for assault and 5th for theft. As for the composed index of crimes against people and to property, Quintana Roo is good second. Curiously, the perception of insecurity in this State is under the national average. The federation of Mexico is made of 32 states, including a federal district.

From the economic point of view, Mexico is the 14th world economy. The service sector accounts for 70% of its GDP and employs 58% of the active population. Tourism industry is the third industry in importance for the country and the first in importance for Qunitana Roo. According to the World Tourism Organization, more than 22 million people come to visit Mexico each year. This makes it the 8th more visited country in the world. 90% of these tourists come from the United States and Canada. It is generally reported that more than one million Canadians visit Mexico each year.

Qunitana Roo, the state where Cancún, Riviera Maya, Playa del Carmen (which the local residents of the area gave the sympathetic nickname of Playa Del Crimen), Tulum, Isla Mujeres, etc, are, is prosperous mainly because of tourism. Cancún was created following studies from the government to build a new tourist area. On January 23, 1970, began the construction of the first hotels subsidized by the State. At that time, 3 people lived Cancún, 117 in Puerto Juarez, a little up north. Today, the city approaches the million inhabitants and has become the economic capital of the State. Isla Mujeres went from a modest population during these years, residing only in the northern triangle of the island, to exceed 18,000 people, including a rotary population of approximately 5,000 individuals. More than 1,200 rooms are available on the small island for the tourists.

Whether it’s for the Mayan ruins, the beaches, the all-included, conventions or weddings, everything’s there to spend beautiful vacation. All, except the protection of tourists. The Spring Break period is particularly prosper for theft, and especially rapes. The situation is such that in 2010, the American authorities emitted a warning aimed at the “spring breakers” concerning these destinations. Testimonies pullulate as for the nightmares lived by some tourists in these heavenly regions of the world. These crimes are regularly perpetrated by employees of the hotels and by taxi drivers.

The police officers are also famous for the extortion of tourists. This has reached such a level that some car rental companies closed their offices in the area. Their customers were often arrested for no legitimate reason and had to give a tip to be released. People who made the crossing from the United States to Cancún say this: it is necessary to bring around 1000$ US for “police tip”. Under the cover of confidentiality, certain Mexican dignitaries say that police corruption elsewhere in the country is kindergarten; Quintana Roo is of postdoctoral level.

Other countries in the world that mainly live from tourism put the necessary measures to protect their primary industry. The measures in place in Mexico like blaming the victim, stigmatize the author of the crime and trying to sweep it all discreetly under the rug, sometime with the implicit acceptance of its business partners is more than largely inappropriate. The deployment of heavily armed soldiers in the tourist areas is not reassuring either. Sustainable solutions must be thought and implemented. The destruction of sea-beds to create beaches is only another example of the reign of the short term vision. Accustomed can already notice the deterioration of the oceanic ecosystems of the area.

Travel report from of the Department of Foreign Affairs International Trade Canada concerning Mexico.


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