Pubdate: Fri, 20 Aug 2010
Source: New York Daily News (NY)
Copyright: 2010 Daily News, L.P.
Author: Juan Gonzalez


They found the body of Edelmiro Cavazos on a dirt road on the 
outskirts of Santiago, a popular tourist spot near Monterrey, Mexico.

The 38-year-old, U.S.-educated mayor of Santiago had been shot 
execution-style, hands tied behind his back, head bound with tape.

Cavazos, whose body was found Wednesday, was the fifth Mexican mayor 
gunned down in the past two years - the latest high-profile victim in 
a nation that is bleeding to death from its War on Drugs.

The mayhem in Mexico has gotten so bad that President Felipe Calderon 
launched an unprecedented public debate and political summit on ways 
to end the war, possibly by legalizing drugs.

The reason Mexico's politicians are desperate for peace is simple.

More people are dying each day from the bullets and bombs of drug 
traffickers in their country than are being killed in the Iraq and 
Afghanistan wars combined.

In the border city of Juarez, the epicenter of the violence, 60 
residents were gunned down between Friday and Monday.

Since December 2006, 28,000 Mexicans have been murdered, including 
more than 2,000 police and security officials.

Drug gangs have resorted to car bombs, kidnappings and have even 
blockaded wealthy neighborhoods of Monterrey in spectacular displays of force.

The escalating carnage is a direct result of Calderon's decision, 
shortly after his election in 2006, to station 45,000 soldiers and 
police on the country's streets to combat the cartels.

Calderon's military surge was backed by more than $1.2 billion in 
drug war aid from former President Bush, and by several hundred 
million more from the Obama administration.

Although Mexican officials have captured or killed scores of drug 
lords and seized tons of drugs, the violence and the trafficking 
continue to mushroom.

The country's tourism is dying, its industry is suffering and 
thousands have fled violence-plagued border cities like Tijuana, 
Matamoros and Juarez.

Meanwhile, two industries in the U.S. are flourishing from Mexico's tragedy.

More than 7,000 gun shops have sprouted on the U.S. side of the 
border, and their owners seem not to care where the merchandise goes. 
Three-quarters of the 84,000 weapons, including high-powered assault 
rifles, that Mexican officials have seized since 2006, originated in the U.S.

Then there are the banks.

On March 12, federal prosecutors in Miami charged Wachovia Bank with 
repeatedly failing to report possible money-laundering activity by 
money-transfer firms from Mexico that used the bank.

Some of the more than $370billion wired to Wachovia from Mexico 
bought planes here that were used to transport drugs.

Wells Fargo, which owns Wachovia, immediately entered into a deferred 
prosecution agreement and paid the federal government $160 million in fines.

Several other U.S. banks have also been discovered flouting 
money-laundering laws.

No wonder former Mexican president Vicente Fox, a conservative 
businessman, is urging his country to legalize the production, sale 
and distribution of drugs "as a strategy to weaken and break the 
economic system that allows cartels to earn huge profits."

The Mexican people, Fox says, have paid too high a price for this war 
on drugs, while the gun dealers and bankers in the U.S. continue to 
make a killing.
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