Statistics from the UNDOC routinely rank Latin America as the most violent region in the world, and more than 150,000 people died from homicide in the Americas in 2012. In Brazil alone, more than 50,000 people were victims of homicide in 2012, more than triple the number in the U.S. (UNDOC, 2013). The crime epidemic that has arisen in the past decade in Latin America has resulted in the militarization of conflict, most exemplified by the Mexican government in its ongoing battle with drug cartels.
Cuenta Piergorgio Sandri, que alguna vez le preguntaron al polémico presidente de Guinea Ecuatorial, Teodoro Obiang, si se consideraba un dictador, a lo que contestó: “Si el dictador es el que dicta las leyes… ¡entonces sí soy un dictador!”.
Since the 1990s, Mexican drug cartels have become billion dollar operations and their capacity has grown dramatically. In 2006, president Felipe Calderón Hinojosa began deploying the military and federal police to perform counter-narcotics operations in various regions of the country. The armed conflict that ensued converted many communities into virtual war zones and left hundreds of thousands dead, missing, or displaced from home and community.
During the past decade, drug consumption surveys and expert analyses have warned about growing drug use in Latin America. According to the 2013 World Drug Report, cocaine use in Latin America increased significantly during the first decade of the 2000s while the U.S. cocaine market, although still the largest in the world, has been declining. Similar upward trends exist in marijuana, synthetic, and prescription drug use. These trends are seen as unprecedented as they affect primary drug producers, such as Colombia and Mexico, and are seen as generating significant violence.
At the end of November, a riot resulting in 17 fatalities broke out in a prison in Escuintla, Guatemala.1 The cause of the violence is unknown, but Guatemala’s Deputy Interior Minister Elmer Sosa has said that some of the inmates possessed guns and has stated that possible causes include a conflict between known gang members and other prisoners and a thwarted escape effort.2 Sadly, this violence is not an isolated incident but rather another example of effects
—¡Pónchale las llantas, pónchale las llantas!— se escucha el grito desesperado de una mujer, mientras en el video se ve como un grupo de policías huyen de la escena donde, minutos después, se aprecia como un grupo de sicarios saca a un hombre de una casa. ¡Bam, bam, bam! Se alcanza a escuchar el tronido de las armas automáticas seguido del grito adolorido de la misma mujer. Otro asesinato más.
On November 12, 2012, former Mexican mayor Maria Santos Gorrostieta was abducted as she was driving her daughter to school. Her body was found a few days later and it is believed that she was tortured before she was killed. There is speculation that Gorrostieta was targeted for her frequent denunciations of drug cartels in the area where she served as governor, a small town in the western state of Michoacán.
Not only is the Mérida Initiative undermined, but the Mexican government is increasingly wary to say so. Former president Felipe Calderón criticized during his administration the glaring inadequacy in U.S. efforts to stem the flow of illegal arms south into Mexico.