Showing all posts tagged: mexico
Showing all posts tagged: mexico
Poor Mexico. So far from God and so close to the United States.
Mica Rosenberg and Julian Cardona via Reuters
Although official figures vary, the city [Ciudad Juarez, Mexico] this month likely surpassed 10,000 homicides in the past four years. That’s more than Afghanistan’s civilian casualties in the same period and more than double the number of U.S. troops killed in the entire Iraq war.
End prohibition. The human costs are unsupportable.
Cornelia Dean reviews A Great Aridness by William deBuys and Bird On Fire by Andrew Ross, two works looking at Southwestern drought:
Cornelia Dean via NYTimes.com
Both authors cite the work of Jonathan Overpeck, a geologist and a director of the Institute of the Environment at the University of Arizona, whose tracking of simultaneously increasing temperatures and decreasing rainfall leads him to conclude that a new era of drought is dawning in many regions. He is not alone. The NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies had already predicted that extreme droughts would be an every-other-year phenomenon in the United States by the middle of this century.
And of course, the American Southwest is not the only region experiencing drought apparently tied to climate change. According to the journal Science, of the 12 driest winters the Mediterranean has experienced since 1902, 10 have occurred in the last 20 years. Researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say climate change can explain half of the added dryness.
“The coming droughts ought to be a major driver — if not the major driver — of climate policies,” Joseph Romm wrote in a recent issue of the journal Nature. Dr. Romm, a physicist who edits the blog Climate Progress, added, “Raising public awareness of, and scientific focus on, the likelihood of severe effects of drought is the first step to prompting action.”
People who read these books will understand that message.
One step, Dr. Ross writes, would be to begin rectifying the environmental inequality that already consigns the poor to bad air, polluted water and general environmental degradation.
“Can the well-provisioned respond in kind to the environmentalist claims of the poor?” he asks. If an era of real water scarcity dawns, as many scientists now predict it inevitably will, the ability of states and localities to allocate supplies fairly will be a telling test. If they fail that test, Dr. Ross writes, they face a future of “eco-apartheid.”
Dr. deBuys puts it somewhat differently. History teaches that people have difficulty adapting to prolonged, extreme drought, he writes. Faced with it, they typically abandon efforts to cope and simply abandon their homes. That is why we call dry places deserts — they are deserted.
Is that tactic likely for today’s Southwest? No. But, he writes, any answers to the water challenge will require “strong social will and collective commitment.”
At the moment, though, the region’s politics tend to embrace the idea that collective action of any kind is inherently suspicious or even evil; government is the problem, never the solution; and regulation is the bane of economic growth.
These ideas are not in accord with Dr. deBuys’s prescription, which is to “get on with what we should have been doing all along, including limiting greenhouse gases.”
There is no silver bullet, he writes. “There is only the age-old duty to extend kindness to other beings, to work together and with discipline on common challenges.”
I disagree with deBuys: The American southwest will be deserted, because people cannot easily live in climates without abundant water. Given the option to move away — which we have in the US today — people will migrate.
I expect a serious flight of people from the southwest this year. For example, the 500M trees that died in Texas last year — around 10% of all the state’s trees — will likely lead to serious brush fires. That, coupled with another year of record drought could lead millions of people to migrate north, back to the heartland: Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan.
In northern Mexico, the 2011 drought has already led to the migration of over 2.5M people.
I am predicting 20M Americans will eventually leave the southwest, moving north and east, over the next few years.
I also predict the Water Wars will be the most divisive issue confronting us in the next decades, and they will rage worldwide. We are not prepared for 100 million ecological refugees disregarding borders in order to get to water.
Much of Mexico is currently affected by some degree of drought (see map above). The National Meteorological Service (SMN) reports that September was one of the driest months in some 70 years. All the signs suggest this is the worst year for drought since 1941. The worst affected states are Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Durango, Nuevo León and Zacatecas. (Paradoxically, some parts of southern Mexico, especially in the states of Oaxaca and Tabasco, have experienced serious flooding in recent months).
In the drought zones, emergency programs are getting underway to provide temporary work for many rural dwellers and to supply potable water to the worst affected settlements. In addition to crop losses, up to one million head of cattle will have been put down by year-end in northern states as a direct result of the drought, since farmers do not have sufficient fodder available to feed them as usual.
While some cattle have been exported to the USA, local meat prices will be driven down by the increase in supply, making many farmer’s livelihoods even more precarious. Many farmers will need federal assistance to overcome this latest crisis.
Over 2.5M Mexicans have already migrated from the northern countryside to the cities.
Mexican citizens are crowdsourcing information about the narco wars in Mexico, circumventing official channels and filling a vacuum left by ineffective news media:
Damien Cave, Mexico Turns to Twitter and Facebook for Information and Survival
In many ways, the explosion of electronic crime-sharing is the product of trends that both create and destroy communities: Mexico today is both highly connected and highly dangerous. Around 40,000 people have been killed in the ramped-up drug war of the past five years, while the middle class is growing, scared and increasingly networked. Cellphones are as common as keys; Twitter has more than four million users in Mexico, according to tracking companies; and among the more than 30 million people with regular Internet access, 95 percent have profiles on Facebook.
Add to that the proliferation of Web sites and blogs dedicated to covering violence with submissions from readers (Wikinarco, Blogdelnarco, Borderland Beat), and what Mexico has ended up with is a crowd-sourced universe of morbid, frightening information — which is often not available elsewhere.
“Social media is filling the gap left by the press,” said Andrés Monroy-Hernández, a doctoral candidate from Mexico at the M.I.T. Media Lab. “In different regions of Mexico, both the state and the press are weak, while organized crime is becoming stronger and, in some places, replacing the state.”
Many Mexicans now say they trust Twitter more than local news outlets, and in some areas, parents and grandparents are being taught by their children how to get online — specifically so they can be safe.
Here is social media serving a vital social need, and meanwhile, the regional government of Veracruz charged several people with terrorism and sabotage after spreading a rumor about criminal activity that led to parents racing to schools to pick up children, and causing car accidents, supposedly.
I guess we could be charged under the Patriot Act here, if similar circumstances took place.
Mr. Gutiérrez was quoted as saying: “We have 18 months and if we do not produce a tangible success that is recognizable to the Mexican people, it will be difficult to sustain the confrontation into the next administration.”
The summary of Mr. Gutiérrez’s comments, written by the United States ambassador to Mexico, Carlos Pascual, continued: “He expressed a real concern with ‘losing’ certain regions. It is damaging Mexico’s international reputation, hurting foreign investment, and leading to a sense of government impotence, Gutiérrez said.”
Mexico — in the drug wars — has become so bad that the government fears that if may lose control of the country to drug lords.
Perhaps as part of our rethinking of the economy we will get around to realizing that prohibition is destabilzing, no matter what conventional morality suggests. We need to simply make these drugs legal, and educate users, instead of pretending that illegality is a defense. It’s just stupid and ineffective.
It’s ridiculous for the NY Times editorial board to look at the violence in Mexico and fall back to finger wagging at US “drug addicts” and the ease with which illegal guns can be acquired. What about the stupidity of keeping these drugs illegal when tobacco and alcohol aren’t? End the war on drugs, and there won’t be any violence, just as we saw after the end of Prohibition.
Obama campaigned on a promise to restore the assault weapons ban, but is backing away now that he’s in office, and can act like the centrist he actually is. In Mexico, he’s done the American mea culpa, saying that the drug war is caused by American’s hunger for drugs, but he’s unwilling to either stem the flow of assault weapons by making their purchase illegal in the US, or coming out for dug legalization, which would end the flow of money to criminals.
Instead, we are going to see the usual intensification nonsense. Expect to hear a lot of mumbo-jumbo about tightening the border, sending more border patrols and helicopters, more money to support drug interdiction in Mexico. However, these have all proven ineffective over the past ten years and more. But that won’t stop the psychobabble.
Clearly, Obama wants to talk his way around this issue, instead of doing anything serious. You’d almost think the drug lords had hired some Washington lobbyists.
[via In Mexico, Obama Seeks Curbs on Arms Sales - NYTimes.com]
‘President Obama, vowing to confront drug cartels that are “sowing chaos in our communities,” called Thursday for the Senate to ratify a long-stalled treaty aimed at curbing illegal arms trafficking. But Mr. Obama also suggested that he would not press lawmakers to revive an expired ban on assault weapons.’
[via NYTimes.com by Ginger Thompson]
This is a story about the glorious alliance between Mexico and the US to ‘operate almost like a vise’ to crush the drug cartels that are destabilizing Mexico and the border, and it reads like a recruitment poster. It’s all about how we are going to intensify all the failed policies of the past — more troopr, more patrols, more dogs sniffing, more intelligence — and this will win the day because drugs are bad, and the people that transport them are, well, terrorists, by the looks of things.
Buried in the story is one innocuous quote, however, that gives me hope that behind all the rhetoric and confetti, they might be a glimmer of sanity in the Obama administration:
‘And with marijuana sales central to the drug trade, Mr. Holder said he was exploring ways to lower the minimum amount required for the federal prosecution of possession cases.’
Decriminalization of small amounts is the first step toward legalization, even if the administration will refuse to characterize it that way. 47% of federal criminal prosecutions involve pot, and it is costing us hundreds of billions to fight a way against a plant that science says is significantly less harmful than alchohol, and no worse than tobacco.
‘With the prospect of a quick victory increasingly elusive, a rising chorus of voices on both sides of the border is questioning the cost and the fallout of the assault on the cartels.
Mexicans, aghast at the rising body count, the mutilated corpses on their streets and the swagger of the drug chieftains, wonder if they are paying too high a price in pursuing organized crime groups that have operated for generations on their soil. “Sometimes, I think this is a war you can’t really win,” a Mexican soldier whispered to a reporter, out of earshot of his commander, during a recent drug patrol in Reynosa. “You do what you can, but there’s so many more of them than us.”
Americans, including border state governors and military analysts in Washington, have begun to question whether the spillover violence presents a threat to their own national security, and, to the outrage of many Mexicans, whether the country itself will crumble under the strain of the war.
There are calls for a completely new approach. One of Mr. Calderón’s predecessors, Mr. Zedillo, recently joined two other former heads of state from Latin America in pushing for a complete rethinking of the drug war, including the legalization of marijuana, which is considered the top revenue generator for Mexican drug cartels.
Mexico is nowhere near such a transformative step as legalizing drugs, which would cut drug profits but also might cause use to soar. Still, there are initiatives on the horizon.
Three years ago, the Mexican Congress passed a plan to decriminalize the possession of small quantities of cocaine and other drugs, but Vicente Fox, then the president, killed the bill after American officials raised an alarm. Mr. Calderón made a similar proposal last fall, albeit lowering the amounts still further, and this time American officials did not utter a peep.’
Almost 500,000 Mexicans are estimated to be involved in the drug trade, and the corruption it spreads is everywhere.
We have to legalize drugs on this side of the border to cut the flow of money to cartels there. There is no other way to end this destabilization of Mexico, which is on our southern border. The more we push the war on drugs, the higher the prices — and violence — soar.