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Washington Post Dispels Mexico Myths

12 September, 2012

After so many sensationalized reports about the "drug war" in Mexico,it's nice to see one major publication focussing on the truth.

The Washington Post,yesterday,cut through the hysterical rhetoric of other newspapers and ran an opinion piece,by three academic experts,to dispel the myths about violence in Mexico.

First,in answer to the misperception that "Mexico is descending into widespread and indiscriminate violence" they said "the violence is not as widespread or as random as it may appear ... organized crime is not threatening to take over the federal government. Mexico is not turning into a failed state."

This is a point we have been making to our customers: yes,there is violence,but not in the tourist areas. In fact,we undertook our own research last year and found that Mexican tourists zones are up to 26 times safer than those in the U.S.A.

The second myth they tackled was: "The Mexican government lacks the resources to fight the cartels." The capital's daily paper pointed out the victories made over the last year,including a significant weakening of drug trafficking gangs. They said,"the battle against organized crime is not a lost cause. Thanks to a genuine commitment by Mexican officials and greater cooperation with the United States."

The next mistruth they rebut is: "Endemic corruption allows the cartels to flourish." They point out that many high profile figures have already been toppled for corruption and there is "a real commitment by honest officials to root out malfeasance." They say more work needs to be done,but Mexico is already improving in this respect due to "courageous journalists and new civic organizations calling for greater accountability."

The fourth misconception is a common one: "Drug violence is a Mexican problem,not a U.S. one." We couldn't agree more and cringe every time there is a reference to the "Mexican" drug war. The reason the drugs come through Mexico is to supply the world's biggest consumers: Americans. 

The Washinton Post agrees and says the U.S. should,"redouble its efforts to reduce American demand for illegal narcotics." They also point out that the criminals bring weapons from the U.S. to Mexico,and it is the responsibility of the U.S. to address this problem.

Finally,the last myth they bust is that,"Mexican drug violence is spilling over into the United States." To this they say "there has been little of the same spectacular violence on the American side" and point out that conviction rates are higher in the U.S.A. and there is,in fact,little 'spillover'.

In conclusion,the Washington Post calmly pointed out that hystericism and myths needs to be overcome and the U.S.A. needs to work very closely with Mexico towards a solution. This is as much a U.S. problem as a Mexican problem.

The article was written by three respected scholars in the field: Andrew Selee,director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars; David Shirk,fellow at the center and an associate professor at the University of San Diego; and Eric Olson,senior adviser at the center.

Visit the Washington Post website to see the full article, "Five myths about Mexico's drug war."

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