The escalating drug war in Mexico has now made America’s southern neighbor a more dangerous place than Iraq, according to Strategy Page, a military affairs Web site.
“This month, about 26 people a day are dying from criminal and terrorist violence a day in Iraq. That’s a bit lower than the death toll in northern Mexico, which on a bad day (like last November 3rd) saw 58 people killed,’’ the Web site writes in a headlined post, “Mexico: Iraq is Safer.”
“The police are generally helpless, hundreds of thousands of middle-class Mexicans have fled the border region, often to the United States (if they had dual-citizenship, which many do),” Strategy Page continues. “Those without money must hunker down and wait for someone to win this war. The drug gangs show no signs of weakening, although the army believes that it can prevail in the next year or so.”
At least 7,000 people have been killed in a two-year war between the Mexican government and major drug cartels along the U.S.-Mexico border, according to the University of San Diego Trans-border Institute. The war was triggered by a decision by President Felipe Calderon in 2007 to reclaim major areas of the border from the control of huge drug cartels and their private armies. Calderon has deployed an estimated 45,000 army troops and 18,000 police officers in 18 states in Mexico.
The effect has been minimal, according to published accounts. Kidnappings have dropped, but brutal gangland style murders have escalated. Headless bodies have been hung from overpasses and thrown on the side of major streets and highways in places like Tijuana and Ciudad Juarez, and mass killings have taken place inside once peaceful restaurants and business districts.
Mexican media reported that November 2008 was the deadliest month in Mexico’s now two-year old Cartel War, according to Strategy Page. Over 700 people were killed in November, and 669 were killed in October 2008. That brings the death toll for 2008 to somewhere between 4,900 and 5,100 murders. “The 2008 death toll is another indicator that Mexico is a country at war,” Strategy Page concluded.