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April 21, 2010

South of the Border, Down Mexico Way

<small>2004 Julian Cardona</small>
2004 Julian Cardona

How does one begin to address an issue so lucrative, yet destructive, so well publicized and purposely ignored? The drug trade via Mexico has been escalating exponentially in terms of product distributed, money transacted, and lives lost. The daily death toll at the border city of Ciudad Juarez now exceeds that of Baghdad — and the arrival of Mexican troops serves only to escalate the count. Both Mexico and the US have pledged to fight and win this decades old “war on drugs,” while both countries fully realize that Mexico’s crippled economy would spiral downward even further without the drug dollars that help prop it askew.

Meanwhile, the much-heralded NAFTA agreement has proven itself an equally dismal failure. At the time of its implementation, only Ralph Nader warned that its touted job and revenue creation on either side of the border was a poorly disguised, one-way facade for higher corporate profit. NAFTA has very successfully delayed, thwarted, and replaced movement to create any semblance of living wage jobs that could sustain a functional society and a stable economy in Mexico (hasn’t done much for America’s middle class either). And the drug trade flourishes.

2004 Julian Cardona

So we’ll exchange more “intelligence,” throw more money and military hardware at the problem, full well knowing that none of it has ever come close to stopping it and never will. We’ll continue to find women’s bodies in the desert, and as Charles Bowden so deftly points out, menfolk have been dying in equal, if not greater numbers. This obscenity of drugs and death will continue, its violence unabated, and the myriad related problems remain unaddressed and unresolved. Of course, we’ll continue to blame penniless immigrants and illusory terrorists — there’s never a shortage of brown skins to blame.

Meanwhile, an ever smaller number of journalists (like Bowden and photographer Julian Cardona) will continue to report and document for the remaining few willing to listen and peer at the ongoing carnage as it unfolds in distant deserts, alleyways, and government offices, both here and abroad. And the slaughter of the desperate will continue

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