Ten years ago Mexico declared a war on the drug cartel, the attack leaving major such organizations in disarray and many of their famous leaders like Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman imprisoned, but the overall effect on crime and violence remains the same.
Some say the war has been important, but flawed. Other say that the tactics used by the President Felipe Calderon, who declared the war on Dec. 11, 2006, caused a lot of collateral damage with more than 100,000 people dead and 30,000 missing, something not seems since the Central American civil of wars in the ‘80s.
A police official from Tamaulipas, who was not allowed to named, told Associated Press about young cartel members who embraced a life of violence and killing as the only way to improve their social status.
“I ask them, ‘What do you want to be?’ And they say, ‘To be a chief look-out and have a narco-corrido song written about me,” said the official. “As young as they are, they have no other aspiration in life.”
In some places like Tamaulipas crime has gone down after reaching high murder level around 2010-2012, but there still shootouts and mass graves, but not as much after the dismantling of the Zetas cartel, resulting in much smaller gangs fighting for territory.
Meanwhile, in other places like Guerrero, where, once the luxurious vacation spot, Acapulco is now one of the deadliest cities in the world, the crime numbers have reached desperate limits. Mass graves, human heads dumped in public are just of the few instances of crime run rampant in that state.
In 2014 , 43 students disappeared in Ingual, Guerrero , with only 18 bodies exhumed from clandestine graves by authorities. Even though the government has created some agencies to support the victims, it’s small independent groups like The Other Disappeared that have been responsible for such small victories.
“If there has been anything good that has come out of all of this, I would say it is the awakening of the victims,” said Adriana Bahena, the groups co-founder.
Raul Benitez, a security specialist for the National Autonomous University of Mexico, said that even though Calderon was right to go to war with the cartels, he failed because he didn’t root out the corruption in his own government.
“Without that,” he said, “the strategy will always fail.”