the new york times

Déjà Vu in Mexico

Aug 12--The situation in Mexico should not surprise us. We have seen it before.

Remember Colombia in the late 1980s and early 1990s? Murderous battles between rival drug lords; assassinations of anyone who dared oppose them; police officers, politicians, judges and businessmen corrupted by narco millionaires; elections bought; candidates killed; random and targeted bombings. And through it all, innocent citizens caught in the middle died by the thousands.

The similarities go down even to the hiring of poor, uneducated hit men (“sicarios” in Spanish), who brazenly prowl city streets, killing those who do not cooperate. The sicarios, as easy to hire in Mexico as in Colombia, are known in both places as “the disposable ones” because when killed — as they often are — they are easily replaced by their ruthless bosses.

Another similarity is the “triple whammy” role the United States has played: Americans are the principal drug consumers, arms suppliers and money launderers.

Twenty years ago, the situation in Colombia took on crisis proportions when President Virgilio Barco’s government determined to retake control of parts of the country from Pablo Escobar and his ilk. Mr. Escobar’s reaction was immediate and vicious.

It is important to note that mafias, whether they are in Colombia or Mexico, have no desire to run the country. Their agenda is simple: Government and society must give them free reign. Legal immunity and the freedom to live regally are their objectives.

Read more here.
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