Mexican historian and publisher Enrique Krauze has written a piece for Bloomberg View which several friends have sent along, recommending on Facebook and the like.
As a big fan of Krauze (ok, I admit I have never read more than three paragraphs of his stuff, but I've always wanted to write for Letras Libres) I eagerly opened the link to the article.
This is what I got:
"Mexico, battered by an interminable narco war, hasn’t found a firm consensus on how to combat organized crime."
My response: Mexico's congress, often battered by its own stubbornness, hasn't found a firm consensus on much in recent years. Just look at the gridlock since 2000. Police reforms are stuck there for a reason. As for Mexicans, well, polls do show that more than 70 percent of people favor the death penalty for narcos, and more than 80 percent support the use of the military in the drug war.
"In Spain, which has been plagued by the violence of the Basque group ETA, such a consensus was slow to develop..."
My response: ETA is not and never was part of a multi-billion dollar industry. Please don't compare rotten apples and rancid oranges.
"A major factor impeding agreement on a program of action is a rejection, by many Mexicans, of the law-enforcement policies pursued by President Felipe Calderon. Nevertheless, in a recent poll by the Pew Research Center, 83 percent of respondents approved of the government’s deployment of the army against the cartels."
My response: Did I miss something here? Did you just undercut your own argument in the following sentence?
"Yet a strong undercurrent of opposition to Calderon’s strategy has been expressed in the recent countrywide marches of the Movement for Peace, founded by the poet Javier Sicilia after his son was murdered by men connected with a drug cartel for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, as has happened to so many innocents in recent years."
My response: Come on, Dr Krauze. You know full well that Sicilia's movement, as moving and inspiring as it seems, is not likely to be very different from past movements, led by the likes of Alejandro Marti. Marches bring awareness, but right now, Mexico is hardly an under-reported news story of yesteryear. People need security now, not some poet speaking out and shedding tears on their behalf and taking up the president's time by having a nice little televised dialogue with him about things he already knows and is trying to fix.
"A complete acceptance of Calderon’s strategies is by no means required to secure a broad national consensus against organized crime."
My response: Thank God for that. I'm no fan of authoritarianism, but Calderon is the president, and definitely needs some leeway to just do what he thinks is right. He shouldn't have to ask permission on every detail of his plan; sometimes I wonder if some Mexican pundits have taken this whole democracy thing a bit far.
"Like many others, I would criticize the overwhelming emphasis on a military solution... [and the lack of] focus on the corrupt connections between power and crime."
My response: No one has said the military is a solution. Every single government official that I know of says the eventual aim is to get the military back in the barracks as soon as it is possible. It has done so on several occasions in Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez, only to have to bring them back in. As for focusing on the corrupt connections between power and crime, well, I would agree with that if the Calderon administration hadn't thrown its drug czar in jail, arrested a top DEA-backed commander, thrown 30 or so Michoacan officials and mayors in jail (let's ignore the fact that they were later released due to lack of evidence), and so on. Sure, much more needs to be done, but Operation Clean House wasn't all smoke and mirrors.
"A society mobilized to confront so grave a problem as the cartel violence in Mexico cannot tolerate inefficiency and corruption in its political leaders. But it must be equally firm in its rejection of, and active opposition to, criminals."
A link to the article is in the title of this post.