Pubdate: Fri, 3 Sep 2010
Source: San Antonio Express-News (TX)
Copyright: 2010 San Antonio Express-News
Bookmark: (Opinion)


Often times, the word "war" is employed as a metaphor to describe
something less than a major armed struggle. There have been wars on
poverty, wars on diseases, wars that aren't really wars on just about
everything. But what's happening in Mexico right now is the real
thing. As a Saturday front page headline in the Express-News put it,
the drug war across the Rio Grande is just that - a war.

Mexico's drug war has for some time resembled the violent conflicts of
the Middle East, featuring tactics similar to those of terrorist
groups. The cartels and their enforcers have carried out
assassinations, beheaded adversaries, set off car bombs and engaged in
seemingly random acts of violence.

According to a Mexican government security spokesman cited by the
Associated Press, more than 28,000 drug-related killings have taken
place since President Felipe Calderon decided to fight back against
the corrupting influence and murderous methods of the cartels in 2006.
Last year, more than 2,700 people were murdered in Ciudad Juarez
alone, a city with a population not much larger than San Antonio.

Even given this brief history and these numbers, what happened in
Tamaulipas last week on a ranch 100 miles south of the Texas border
was shocking. Authorities there discovered the mass murder of 72
migrants from Central and South America seeking their way north to the
United States. According to a lone survivor, members of the Zetas
massacred them when they refused to go to work for the drug gang.

This is the Mexican government's war to fight and win - or lose. But
there is much the United States can and must do to help. At the top of
the list is following through on U.S. commitments under the Merida
Initiative, a $1.6 billion aid package negotiated under the Bush
administration to provide equipment, training and technical assistance
for Mexican security, law enforcement and judicial

A recent report from the Government Accountability Office found that
although the initiative is in its third and final year, less than 10
percent of the funds appropriated had actually been spent. Given the
brutal escalation of violence, that's inexplicable.

The Obama administration needs to expedite the delivery of Merida
funds. Beyond the current initiative that is set to expire, American
and Mexican officials should be discussing an expansion of

The American appetite for illicit drugs generates the cash that arms
the cartels. The drug war poses a security threat and an economic
threat to the border region. The United States isn't simply a
bystander to the bloodletting in Mexico. It's time U.S. officials
acted accordingly. 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake