Mexico's Drug War Took 12,000 Lives in 2011 -- When Will U.S. Leaders Admit Responsibility?

Prohibition in the United States has reached another low, causing  even more international damage. The Washington Post reportsthat in 2011, more than 12,000 people died in Mexico's escalating drug violence. Since President Felipe Calderon launched a U.S.-backed war against drug trafficking in 2006, more than 50,000 people have been killed.

From the Washington Post:

The daily newspaper Reforma, one of the nation’s most respected independent news outlets, reported 12,359 drug-related killings in 2011, a 6.3 percent increase compared with the previous year. There were 2,275 drug killings in 2007, Reforma said.

Indexes of torture, beheading, and the killing of women also were on the rise, according to the Post.  Perhaps more startling is that children, too, are victims of Mexico's drug war. 

The newspaper did not offer a count of juveniles or children killed, but children increasingly have been caught in the crossfire or intentionally targeted to send a chilling message that the drug gangs will stop at nothing.

 What might decrease traffickers' incentive to sell drugs, however, are legalization efforts in the United States. Much of the drugs manufactured abroad are intended for American bodies, and international leaders are calling on the United States to recognize its role in drug-related violence abroad. Former Mexican President Vincente Fox has called for an end to drug prohibition as the only way to stop the bloodshed in Mexico, and current President Calderon, too, has acknowledged the United States' position as the consumer creating demand. Latin American leaders are also pressuring the U.S. to reconsider its drug policy, as a way to bring peace to their nations.  

The Post reported earlier this month:

At a regional summit this month in Mexico, attended by the leaders of 11 Latin American and Caribbean countries, officials declared that “the authorities in consumer countries should explore all possible alternatives to eliminate exorbitant profits of criminals, including regulatory or market options.” 

“Market options” is diplomatic code for decriminalization.

The complaints are not exactly new but are remarkable for being nearly unanimous. The critique comes from sitting presidents left to right, from persistent U.S. antagonists such as President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, and from close U.S. allies such as President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia, which has received almost $9 billion in aid to fight the cartels.

Because Americans are the consumers of drugs that wreak carnage abroad, re-evaluating our drug policy is not only a way to change the failures of prohibition at home, but to take responsibility for the blood shed abroad, much of which is on our hands. 

AlterNet / By Kristen Gwynne

Posted at January 3, 2012, 9:18am