Most people have, no doubt, heard of the recent warnings about traveling to Mexico and the extravagant claims that Mexico is on the brink of failure as a state (it’s not). And although I will acknowledge that Mexico has a huge problem with the drug cartels that they are dealing with, it’s time for a reality check.
The most recent State Department travel alert warns travelers to Mexico to be cautious and to avoid the border regions, most specifically Juarez, but it does not recommend that you not travel to other parts of Mexico. The major tourists areas and, indeed, most of the entire country pose no threat to tourists. Thousands of tourists enter Mexico every day and spend their time safely enjoying all of what Mexico has to offer. The drug cartels are fighting each other over distribution turf and the Feds over their illegal enterprise, but every-day citizens and visitors are not the target. It is estimated that nearly a million Americans and Canadians now live in Mexico at least part-time, and there has been no mass exodus by them because they don’t feel safe. In fact I communicate with them all of the time and they all say that they are not affected by increased violence in any way.
Again, yes, Mexico has a problem. But the root of the problem lies in the United States, and that is why the US will have to be a major player in the solution. It is well documented that the cartels are extroardinarily rich because they deal in a product that is in much demand north of the border. And they protect their wealth and business with the world’s best weapons that cross into Mexico across that same border, manufactured in the US and Europe.
Listen, Mexico is too important to the US to ignore what is happening. We share a long border and trade many goods. The world is dangerous enough without having your next door neighbor experiencing turmoil. Our security depends on a strong Mexico. A solution has to be found to shut down the illegal cartels, and it has to be soon. As noted here before, I favor a legalization of some drugs, along with education and rehabilitation. The powerful prison system lobbyists have fought this idea and will continue to do so (out prisons are filled with drug offenders…guess who benefits by this?). Education enormously changed Americans tobacco smoking habits and it can do the same with other drugs. This is an issue that the Obama administration will need to address soon. Let’s see if the “change” they are aggressively enacting extends to helping our good friends in Mexico.