Sunday, March 8, 2009

Tread lightly in Mexico

In recent years, most news relating to the United States' relationship with Mexico has focused on the number of people leaving there to illegally enter our country.

There are still millions of undocumented people from Mexico in America, but in recent weeks, there has been a new aspect of our relationship with our neighbor that has been spotlighted in the media.

However, this aspect is not very pretty.

In the last couple of years, Mexican President Felipe Calderon has led a war on drugs there that has been hard fought. Last year, more than 6,000 deaths occurred as the government cracked down on drug war lords, according to the Associated Press.

These deaths have occurred not only because of law enforcement personnel there, but also because the war lords have been fighting among themselves for the best routes to smuggle their drugs, according to the AP.

While this would seem to be a Mexican problem, the United States plays a major role in this as well. Obviously, the biggest customers of the drug war lords are people here in the United States who want to use their products.

There is no denying it: the United States has an insatiable appetite for drugs, and the reason the war lords in Mexico have become so powerful is partly because of the millions of dollars they get from America.

Our country remains in a deep recession, but people remain willing to buy drugs. If anybody can explain the logic of that to me, I would be happy to listen. Maybe it is a testimony about how strong the addiction to drugs can be.

The drug war there is impacting America in unexpected ways. Spring break is approaching for students all around the country. Tens of thousands of U.S. students go to Mexico during spring break, and many universities are warning them about the dangers there.

The upside of spring break is that it gives a lot of hard working students a chance to blow off some steam. The downside is that they often do that with alcohol and drugs, and doing that could make them quite vulnerable to the danger going on there.

My advice is that it may be a good year for students to do their spring breaking here in America. Why take risks that are not necessary?

When studying Mexico's war on drugs, it has caused me to re-think the issue of illegal immigration. In the past, I have oversimplified the issue somewhat. I thought it was often a case of people just coming here to improve their economic opportunities.

However, this might not be entirely the case. While I still believe money is the primary reason people sneak into America, it is reasonable to assume that the violence in Mexico may be a secondary factor that brings folks here.

And because of this, I can certainly understand how a Mexican would not like to go back home. Violence and poverty would motivate anybody to flee where they live.

While I have compassion for folks in this situation, my comments should not be interpreted as a call to grant amnesty to those here illegally. Having a secure United States/Mexico border still remains a big priority when it comes to our homeland security.

Still, the stories of violence in Mexico should broaden our perspective regarding those trying to enter our nation. Parts of that nation are basically involved in a civil war.

If the civil war there is anything like the one America had, it has to be pulling them apart.

No comments: