Mexico’s over-reliance on harsh law enforcement and militaristic approaches to the drug war has resulted in a dramatic increase in violence and an unaccountable police and military force that is responsible for widespread human rights violations.
Human Rights Watch this week released a report providing evidence that Mexico’s security forces participated in “more than 170 cases of torture, 39 “disappearances,” and 24 extrajudicial killings since Calderón took office in December 2006.”
“Instead of reducing violence, Mexico’s ‘war on drugs’ has resulted in a dramatic increase in killings, torture, and other appalling abuses by security forces, which only make the climate of lawlessness and fear worse in many parts of the country,” said José Miguel Vivanco of Human Rights Watch. What’s more, claimed the report, is that most of these crimes are committed with impunity.
President Calderon’s policy to deploy 50,000 Mexican troops and thousands more federal police officers – forces that are trained by the United States – appears only to have increased the violence, which has left more than 46,000 dead in recent years.
“George W. Bush backed Calderón’s militarization with a $1.8 billion package of helicopters, police training, and intelligence cooperation,” wrote The New Yorker’s Steve Coll recently. “Obama has continued the program” and “has reportedly sent drones to help Mexico track cartel leaders and traffickers.”
Indeed, the unyielding violence and rising influence of the drug cartels has occurred in tandem with ever more stringent and draconian drug war policies from the U.S., as well as a systematic approach of militarizing the approach of various Latin American states.
Recent statements by Latin American leaders, including Calderon and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, indicating that a new approach of decriminalization is needed have been ignored by the United States government.