Edition: U.S. | Arabic | Set Pref
December 16, 2008
Mexico Narco Wars Blog
Watch the program: Part 1 - Part 2

On my first day in Mexico city I was amazed to see people stroll past news stands with barely a glance at the gruesome colour pictures splashed on the front pages. For me, 14 headless bodies piled on top of one another in a field was a graphic image. It certainly caught my attention.

For the first few days, breakfast felt like a macabre ritual. I would sit down to coffee and pastry and read the papers. Police killing gangsters, gangsters killing police, gangsters killing gangsters, kidnap, torture, assassination, mass killings, decapitation …

It was all there, including of course, the collateral damage: Innocent people caught in the crossfire. Within a short time I had become as accustomed to this horror as the Mexicans around me. Of course deep down people despair at what is happening in their country.

Like their contemporaries elsewhere, older Mexicans reminisce about the good old days when life was simple and community and church was strong enough to sort out social problems.

Now, the warring parties are so well armed and the violence so extreme that people don’t know what to think. I spent a lot of time wondering what I would do if I were president of Mexico.

Would I do as President Calderon is doing and take on the cartels in the hope that voters don’t tire of the slow progress and outrageous body count? Or would I have left things as they were… very little violence but with the tentacles of organized crime reaching right into the heart of my government?

It’s a hard choice. In Sinaloa state in the north, which has seen fierce battles between cartel members and police as well as between rival cartels, everything seemed eerily calm on the surface.

I learned from local journalists to eat lunch quickly in case we had to rush out to film another dead body on the roadside.

It’s a surreal job at times. At all the different crime scenes I film, information is very hard to come by. Witnesses who saw everything, saw nothing. Trust appears to be in short supply around here and nobody believes they have anything to gain from talking to a journalist.

I was told over and again that one of the answers lies over the border in the world’s largest drug market … that the U.S. should be working harder to reduce domestic demand. They say it is only logical that by doing this, you attack supply.

To me, It feels a little too late for that now. But that’s another story.

-- From David O’Shea
thank you for the extraordinary story. In Culiacan, almost every day is a drama live in there. I hope some day peace come back again.
David is a legendary reporter in Australia and it's good to see him making his mark on CNN. He knows all too well how the bad habits of the west impact on the lives of people in the developing world. Luckily for David - and perhaps for Mexico - he's a fearless foreign correspondent and not President.
IM MEXICAN AND HAVE THREE SONS , ONE 15 ONE 13 ANOTHER ALMOST TEN
WE HAVE LIVED IN CHINA TWO YEARS , THE SAFEST COUNTRY IN THE WORLD BUT SADLY GOING BACK TO MEXICO IN A MONTH , MAYBE FOR CIVILIANS THE MOST DANGEROUS COUNTRY IN THE WORLD ...MY GOD
I HAVE STRONG AND MIXED FEELINGS , OF COURSE MY KIDS WANT TO GO HOME , BUT IM TERRIFIED
I WATCH MEXICO TELIVISION EVERY DAY HERE IN CHINA AND IM UP TO DATE , MY KIDS HAVE NO IDEA WHERE THEY ARE GOING,MY CONCERNS FOR THEIR SAFETY ARE STRONG , SOMETIMES I CANT EVEN SLEEP THINKING BOUT IT.
I HOPE THEY DECIDE TO COME BACK TO CHINA IN AFTER THREE MONTHS , THEY ALL PROMISE THEY WILL,BUT YOU NEVER KNOW.
MY COUNTRIES HISTORY IN THESE TWENTY OR THIRTY YEARS IS A TOTAL DISGRACE , GOVERNMENT , POLICE AND OF COURSE THE PRIVATE ENTERPRISE LEADERS ARE TO BLAME , EXPLOITATION OF THE WORKER IS HIGH , AND OF COURSE PEOPLE PREFFER CRIME THAN WORKING HARD TO MAKE A LIVING
A LIVING THAT IS STOLEN FROM THEM BY THE MEXICAN SISTEM THEY THINK THEY ARE FREE TO STEAL IT BACK
MY GOD
ALL ARE RESPONSIBLE , I FEEL SAD FOR THIS ENTERPRENOUR MR MARTI THAT LOST HIS SON , THERE IS NOTHING WORSE ,BUT ALSO MR MARTI SHOULD LOOK CAREFULLY HOW WE PAYS AND TREATS HIS WORKERS PROFITING LIKE AL MEXICAN PRIVATE SECTOR.
BY NO WAY I SAY HIS SON DESERVED THIS TERRIBLE FATE OF COURSE NOT ,BUT PRIVATE LEADERS HAVE PROFITED FROM MEXICAN GOVERNMENT CORRUPTION FOR DECADES
THE SAD PART OF MEXICO IS HAT NO BODY THRUSTS NOBODY,NOBODY THRUSTS THE GOVERNMENT , OR THE FUTURE
Thank you for telling the story. I have lived in Culiacán for 12 years and have never seen it this bad. It is an act of courage to simply drive to work or shop for groceries these days. We are afraid everywhere - next to big luxury trucks at stop lights, in heavy traffic, on one-way streets, in the mall, at the grocery store, just walking down the street. Nowhere is safe and no one is immune. And no one seems to have a solution...
im an american living in yucatan for 10 plus years and have never seen it this bad.the drug violence has reached yucatan,one of the safest places in mexico with a large american ex-pat community who chose yucatan for that reason.the stories that reach the american press are the sensational ones such as the 12 headless bodies found here last month.there are countless acts of drug related killings you dont hear about.as long as there is a market for illegal drugs in the united states ,the violence will continue.in reality, the problem here is the problem there.
Mexico is going through a challenging time. At the same time, the government of President Calderon is doing the right thing in pursuing aggressively organized crime instead of surrendering the nation to criminals. Some of the reasons for this situation is the huge demand of illegal drugs from the american market (sadly!) and the decades of corruption of previous Mexican governments which left a compromised justice system. The good news is that the current government, the people, institutions and the political environment is becoming less tolerant to corruption and is demanding justice for all. It'll take a few more years but positive change is taking place. The fact that we now hear in the news that corrupt politicians, policemen or officials are send to jail is a good sign. You didn't hear this before. By the way, I travel to Mexico frequently for business from the US to Guadalajara and Mexico City. I never had a problem. As long as you go to the "right places", hotels, restaurants, you'll be fine. I visited Mexico City two months ago. I saw a lot more policemen around and they were courteous and helpful. The taxi drivers and the locals I spoke with, said that they have seen improvements in security in 2008. I am confident and hopeful that Mexico's democratic institutions and the rule of law will prevail. Most Mexicans are people with strong moral values and deep convictions of righteousness and they won't give up until Mexico becomes a safer, just and prosperous nation.
Drugs is killing many young stars in many countries,all we talk about is those countries not America that provide market for them,America should admonish Americans to reduce their drug intake first then other things will follows. From Tope, Nigeria.
I hope CNN can give this program transcripts, because many non-native Americans have difficulties understanding Video completely without transcripts.
I felt absolutely unsafe these past days that i was there during Christmas. I am from Ciudad Juarez but have been living in California for a while. I love Mexico so much and it is sad to see the conditions of our country. I had never felt so insecure while driving on the roads because you never know what is coming your way. These drug wars and crimes are cancerous and have been increasingly affecting so many honest working citizens who live in fear, and they just cant stop working to hide in their homes to stay safe. This is not fair. It is appalling that even all the way from California I fear for the life of my family who day and day are exposed to these dangers and you just pray for it to never be their turn...

These drug wars are worse than any fatal disease..
Thank you very much for the reporting of Mexican Cartel. I live in Argentina and I learned more deeply how cartels corrupt people and what it is important to be done for figthting against them.I hope that this report will be shown in CNN en Español so that more latin american people can learn, too.
These declaration are not germane to the topic as there are assets and liabilities in doing business. In the Middle East,the giant suppliers of oil will react in the same way with part of the governing authorities if the latter is creating an obstruction in the smooth functioning of the merchandising of oil. This particular case concerns the trade of marijuana and cocaine which are the pillars of the country's economy in a certain way,which certainly cannot be denied by one. There are countries who carry out illegal business in the shadow or rather by camouflaging themselves. The current supplier for Darfur conflict is China. The Mexican narco wars can be treated as a lightly non-urgent matter compared to the Sudanese one. Still much more highlight is being accorded to the Mexican conflict as it has a direct link with the American nation and politics. Humanly speaking,I sympathise with the Mexicans. Thank you in anticipation for your prompt and clear understanding
As a Colombian resident what you describe is very familiar.

My question would expand on asking whether our alienation from what is happening in the world today is not expressed in different ways in different countries? In the United States of America we have three million people in Cults in which the final tendency is to commit suicide after years and years of self humiliation and idolatry for an unscrupulous guru.

Do you see the parallels in the escapism between drugs and idolatry in cults or any form of life in which we don't address the actual problems of our society and the REAL alienation that we are suffering from human contact?
Unfortunately, it is the people in the underground drug culture of, primarily, the United States (and Europe, BTW), that are responsible for this horrible turn of events. Rich or poor, if you use or sell illegal drugs here, the blame for the deaths and maiming rests squarely on YOUR shoulders...ESPECIALLY if you don't vote, or vote for Democrats and/or Republicans that either actively or clandestinely support "The Drug War" began by Nixon in the early '70's, and greatly accelerated by Regan in the 80's.

The solution, callous as it may seem, is to destroy the underground drug culture by LEGALIZING all drugs for recreational use, and letting Darwin's 'Natural Selection'...or God, if you subscribe to religion...sort out the users. I know, I know; how horrible a person I must be, to suggest that we leave poor drug users (and their families) to their fate, when we can use taxpayer money to get them 'help'. People, the 'help' ain't workin', and its costing the United States Taxpayer and the private sector BILLIONS of dollars in manpower, lost revenue, and, tragically, lives, both here and in Mexico (not to mention other countries, like Afghanistan).

If you have a better solution, I'm all 'ears'. But think it through first. Don't just jump up and scream that taxpayers have a 'responsibility' to 'do something'; that's just stupid and short-sighted. The moronic operations of "The War On Drugs" have been going for 35+ YEARS now. The situation in Mexico, at minimum, demands a different response, a logical response, to the problems of illegal drugs.

The Freon Freak

P. S. Read up on the ideas and ideals of freedom, personal responsibility and Libertarianism at the Libertarian Party's website: http://www.lp.org/.
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