Drug War in Mexico Breeds
Murder, Art & Acts of Courage
The Mexican government’s catastrophically misguided efforts to curb drug trafficking has won no battle or shown little progress so far. On the contrary, the indiscriminate body count keeps multiplying, entire cities are being ravaged by impunity and corruption, and a once promising youth is trapped in the middle of its lethal crossfire.
While the Calderon administration, with no small help of the U.S., dump obscene amounts of dollars and human resources into sheer repression, growing demand from both sides of the border and the allure of easily attainable power to its foot soldiers remain untouched and only strengthens the cartels’ de facto control of whole regions of the country.
Segments of the Mexican society, though, remain defiant and show continuous resolve to defend their dignity as citizens and right to lead peaceful lives, despite the widespread terror in border cities, the public assassinations, intimidation of the media, and the open disregard for the rule of law.
Take the increased beheadings of young men, for instance. Its unintended consequence may have fueled the latest baffling trend in the fight that conventional law enforcement is ready to abdicate: young women stepping forward and courageously wearing badges. Such is the case of Olga Herrera Castillo, who’s been appointed police chief in Villa Luz, and Veronica Rios Ontiveros, now in charge of El Vergel. These two housewives are both are as inexperienced as 20-year-old Marisol Valles Garcia, a college student who became the police chief of Práxedis Guadalupe Guerrero last month, but equally as fierce as she is. And the towns they’re willing to do battle in are all in the troubled border region of Ciudad Juarez, where some of the most shocking and despicable acts of barbarism against the population have been recently committed by dueling drug cartels.
As these three fearless women exemplify, even the most unprotected demographics of Mexico’s citizenry, unjustly thrown into the trenches of a lucrative and convenient “drug war,” remains committed to restore and retake their country from the dirty hands of such armies of murder.
That’s why many in California, Arizona and Texas are demanding a comprehensive legislation to decriminalize drugs, and literally pull the fangs of such vampires who prey on the most vulnerable for recruiting, arming them with high-power weaponry and unrealistic promises of instant wealth and respect by fear.
“My concern is that there is no opposition to the barbarity, to the insanity,” says the Argentinean-born Mexican artist Pablo Szmulewicz, author of the painting that illustrates this post. “It can’t be part of our daily landscape.” His sense of despair is understandable and easily spotted in his stunning depiction of the violence that plagues his adopted land. But his work, along with the courage of regular Mexicans, shows that the brutes may break our hearts but not a nation’s spirit. It’s their call to arms, their “!No Pasarán!” vow to resist, as uncompromising and relevant as the fight against fascism in the 1930s once was.