Violence in Mexico: not simply “a country at war”

“Among all the talk of beheadings, bodies burned in acid, and hangings from bridges, there are a few missing pieces of context. Such as the fact that Mexico’s murder rate in 2009 was actually lower than it was in 1999. Or that the murder rate in Yucatán is comparable to that of Montana and Wyoming. Or that Washington, D.C.’s murder rate is nearly quadruple that of Mexico City’s.

Violence in Mexico is intense, but it is also highly localized along the borders, and in Michoacan, Guerrero, Sinaloa, and Zacatecas. This is because most violence is related to competition among drug gangs for exclusive access to production and transit routes.

But rather than focusing on these causes of violence, most U.S. media simply portray Mexico as a “country at war.” I think that comparisons of Mexico with Pakistan as a country “on the verge of becoming a failed state” are ridiculous. I think that Hillary Clinton’s description of drug cartel violence in Mexico as an “insurgency” is both irresponsible and frightening (in terms of its foreign policy implications).”

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