Pubdate: Tue, 17 Nov 2009
Source: San Antonio Express-News (TX)
Copyright: 2009 San Antonio Express-News
Bookmark: (Opinion)


Business groups in Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso, are 
submitting requests to the Mexican government and the Inter-American 
Human Rights Commission seeking United Nations peacekeepers to help 
quell drug-related violence.

It's difficult not to sympathize with their plight.

The Associated Press reported that in 2009, Ciudad Juarez -- a city 
of 1.5 million people -- had endured 1,986 homicides through 
mid-October. On average, that's about seven homicides a day, making 
Ciudad Juarez one of the most dangerous cities in the world.

Who is being killed? Not just foot soldiers of the powerful Juarez 
and Sinaloa cartels fighting for control of the drug trade. An 
off-duty U.S. airman from Holloman AFB near Alamogordo, N.M., was 
among six people slain at a Ciudad Juarez bar this month. In 
September, 28 people were killed in attacks on two drug rehabilitation centers.

The situation is so bad that the Mexican military patrols the streets 
of Ciudad Juarez. But the business groups representing the retail and 
maquiladora industries that are suffering from two years of 
escalating violence believe international help is needed.

"There is a lot of extortions and robberies of businesses," the 
president of the Ciudad Juarez chapter of the National Chamber of 
Commerce, Services and Tourism told the press service. "Many 
businesses are closing."

It's unlikely the Mexican government would accede to the request, and 
just as unlikely that the Security Council would be able to commit 
U.N. peacekeepers if asked. One of the lessons of global peacekeeping 
missions in recent years is that U.N. forces are only effective in 
keeping the peace where there is actually a peace to be kept.

That's not the case in Ciudad Juarez and other Mexican cities racked 
by drug violence. The cartels have armies as well or better equipped 
than most militia and rebel groups around the world. The government 
of Mexican President Felipe Calderon is engaged in a true war with 
those cartels.

There's no role now for peacekeepers, unfortunately. The plea from 
the business community in Ciudad Juarez is a warning sign of just how 
perilous the struggle against the cartels really is.
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake