Latina Lista: News from the Latinx perspective > Columns & Features > Global Views > Calderon needs to put aside his bruised orgullo over justified criticisms of his handling cartel violence

Calderon needs to put aside his bruised orgullo over justified criticisms of his handling cartel violence

LatinaLista — An Univision poll of Mexico’s citizens released today reveals that:


Forty-five percent of those polled believe President Felipe Calderón has done a good or a very good job battling drug trafficking, while 37 percent believe he has failed.

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a joint press conference with Mexican President Felipe Calderon March 3, 2011 in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC. (Photo: Getty Images/Mandel Ngan)

Fifty percent of those polled said drug trafficking is to blame for the corruption in Mexico. Twenty-six percent said Mexico and the U.S. are to blame, while 21 percent said only the U.S. is to blame.

It seems Calderón’s approval ratings cut as close as President Obama’s but there’s no denying that the drug war should be a major issue between the two countries, especially after the continuous murdering of American citizens in Mexico and the recent murder of a U.S. Department of Homeland Security agent along a Mexican highway.

However, instead of focusing on eradicating the cartel influence with U.S. help, Calderón, a leader whose country is being called a failed state by many around the world where drug cartels have overtaken more than their share of small towns, where corruption can be found at the highest levels of government, where women are still being brutally murdered with no real attempt to find their murderers, where the killing of children has become commonplace, where citizens are continually fleeing to el norte due to the violence and the economy — even with all of these issues, Calderón is more concerned with his orgullo (pride).

In a Washington Post article, Calderon said that the State Dept. cables that were released through Wikileaks criticizing his country’s handling of the drug cartel war “caused ‘severe damage’ to its relationship with the United States and suggested that tensions had risen so dramatically that he could no longer work with the American ambassador in his country.”

With so many people dying in his country and fleeing it, the notion that he would focus on his hurt feelings above the truths those criticisms hold is a sad reflection on just how ineffective his leadership has become on the issue — and that’s bad news for the United States.

It’s bad news because more than ever the United States and Mexico need to create a strong strategy and work together to eradicate cartel violence. A new series by the iPad news site The Daily on how cartel violence has infiltrated our borders is saying that these cartels are now the New Mafia in the U.S.

According to the series, drug traffickers have a very profitable business in extorting money from the families of undocumented immigrants. They torture the men, women and children in drop houses scattered throughout the country until the families pay them. Too many times, the immigrants don’t survive the torture.

While short-sighted legislators think building a wall will help with border security, it won’t make a dent because a lot of times the cartel traffickers are either US citizens or legal residents themselves and have that in their favor when they threaten undocumented immigrants or hold them for ransom.

For this reason, and because time is an additional enemy, Calderón needs to put aside his orgullo and show the United States he really does mean business in cleaning up his country. It’s obvious he can only do it with outside help.

It’s imperative that Calderón and the US begin to formulate a strategy that will capture and definitively punish these cartel traffickers and disrupt their businesses because they have not just spread their operations northward but also south.

A contributor to Latina Lista from Guatemala reports that drug traffickers have overtaken rural villages in that country. People don’t go out after 8 p.m. because warring cartel factions have begun fighting for territory and usually hold their gun battles after dark. Police do nothing.

In the contributor’s words, “Guatemala is the land of nobody now.”

It has been known for a while now that the cartel violence is not unique to Mexico and the United States but is quickly spreading throughout the Americas. It’s time for all the countries to come to the table and pledge to rid this criminal element before governments lose total control and the people lose faith in leadership.

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