In recent months, I’ve focused on Mexico and the cartel-related violence there, which directly relates to the security of our own southern border and that of the people who live in the area. Occasionally, I’ve been accused of demonizing Mexico and Mexicans by grossly exaggerating the problem. Perhaps, though I don’t believe so. But, if I am guilty of scaremongering, so is Baylor University:
Drug war violence in Mexico is escalating to an all-time high, forcing Baylor study abroad programs in Mexico to halt.
Baylor has suspended every program in Mexico, with the exception of the law school in Guadalajara, until the conditions change, said Dr. Michael Morrison, director of the Center for International Education. Guadalajara has not experienced the violence seen along the northern border of Mexico and in Monterrey.
More than 28,000 people have died in drug-related violence in Mexico since President Felipe Calderon launched a military offensive against drug traffickers in late 2006.
Two Baylor students studied in Monterrey in the spring. Following an outbreak of violence outside the gates of Monterrey Tech, Baylor arranged for one student to return immediately and worked with the other student and the student’s parents to determine that the student would remain for the last few weeks to finish the Monterrey Tech program.
“We are not currently taking students on that program, as Monterrey is one of the most dangerous places,” Morrison said.
Dr. Sijefredo Loa, associate professor of Spanish, directed the last Baylor in Mexico program to Xalapa, Veracruz, in June 2009.
“There are a few facts that are very alarming,” Loa said. “The road blocks the cartels have set up, for instance. They’re stopping tourists with vans and buses because they want to check the traffic. So this has alarmed and scared a lot of people.”
I can see why.
To borrow a phrase from our President, let me be clear: I do not believe Mexico is a failed state or likely to fail in the near future; Colombia, for example survived far worse and came through it. However, I think those who dismiss the discussion of Mexico’s security problems as hysteria or (you guessed it) racism are burying their heads in the sand to avoid seeing a very real, very serious problem that has serious implications for our own security.
Same with those who think the whole problem could be solved with a libertarian-style legalization of the drug trade: these are not simple businessmen fighting for the right to pursue a trade. The cartels are criminal-terrorist enterprises with much in common with our jihadist enemies (perhaps even allying), such as perceiving any accommodation as weakness. Legalizing their poisonous trade wouldn’t make honest merchants of them; rather, they would be like Edward G. Robinson’s “Johnny Rocco,” in Key Largo:
Johnny Rocco: There’s only one Johnny Rocco.
James Temple: How do you account for it?
Frank McCloud: He knows what he wants. Don’t you, Rocco?
Johnny Rocco: Sure.
James Temple: What’s that?
Frank McCloud: Tell him, Rocco.
Johnny Rocco: Well, I want uh …
Frank McCloud: He wants more, don’t you, Rocco?
Johnny Rocco: Yeah. That’s it. More. That’s right! I want more!
James Temple: Will you ever get enough?
Frank McCloud: Will you, Rocco?
Johnny Rocco: Well, I never have. No, I guess I won’t.
And neither will the cartels, no matter how much we give them.
RELATED: The El Paso Times reports that Juarez’s largest newspaper, El Diario de Juarez, has asked for a truce with the cartels after the assassination of its second journalist in two years. I wrote about the situation in Monterrey yesterday.
(Crossposted at Public Secrets)