Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Mexican Drug Violence - 12 Myths

Of all people! Joaquin Villalobos - as in ex-FMLN battlefield commander - has an interesting take on the drug cartel violence in Mexico. In Number #2 of his "12 Myths" he takes a look at the claim that "Mexico's conflict is becoming Colombianized, and Mexico is close to being a Failed State". He places Mexico's current violence in perspective, by using Colombia's last two decades of narco-violence for comparison. And, he also looking at the violence in major Latin American cities -

México sufre una violencia localizada en seis de sus 32 estados y tiene una tasa nacional de 10 homicidios por cada 100 mil habitantes. Venezuela tiene 48, Colombia 37, Brasil 25, Guatemala, Honduras y El Salvador están arriba de 50. El estado de Chihuahua, el más violento de México, está en este momento en su punto más álgido con una tasa de 143 homicidios, le siguen Sinaloa con 80, Durango con 49, Baja California 44 y Michoacán 25. A inicios de los noventa Medellín, la ciudad más violenta de Colombia, mantuvo una tasa de 320 durante varios años y, en ese mismo periodo, Cali tenía 124, Cúcuta 105 y Bogotá, la capital, 80. Colombia ha vivido dos guerras en 25 años, las cuales le han costado más de 200 mil muertos y dos millones de desplazados, y continúa en conflicto.

Translation summary - As a country, Mexico has 10 murders per 100,000 inhabitants, compared to Venezuela 48, Colombia 37, Brasil 25. Mexico's neighbor Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras all average over 50.

Mexico's violence is pretty much "localized" in 6 of 32 States. Murder rates in the most violent state Chihahua - 143 per 100,000, Sinaloa -80, Durango 49, Baja California 44, Michoacan -25. 4 Mexican States in the middle of the drug war have rates comparable to countries like Venezuela or Colombia.

At the peak of the Medellin Cartel violence in the early 90's, Medellin "kept a rate of 320 (deaths per 100,000) for several years". Cali following with 124, Bogota had 80. Colombia "which continues in conflict", has "lived two wars in 24 years, costing more than 200,000 dead and two million displaced." But still, Medellin's grim statistics are a valid comparison to the likes of Ciudad Juarez, because the city was the home base for a ruthless cartel, led by capos like Escobar and Lehder, who waged war on the Colombian State, battled rival cartels, had a strangelhold over local authorities.

El volumen, extensión, raíces históricas, códigos culturales y complejidad de la violencia colombiana ha sido —y todavía es— muy superior a la que vive México. En Colombia los niveles de penetración que alcanzó el narcotráfico en la política, el ejército, la policía, los negocios y la sociedad fueron mayores a los que existen actualmente en México, donde no se puede hablar de una narcopolítica. Los cárteles y narcoguerrillas colombianas golpearon con actos terroristas a personajes e instituciones de los poderes políticos, económicos y mediáticos vitales del país. En 1989 Luis Carlos Galán, candidato a la presidencia, fue asesinado por el narcotráfico y tres candidatos más fueron asesinados en ese periodo. El propio presidente, Álvaro Uribe, ha sobrevivido a varios atentados y el vicepresidente, Francisco Santos, estuvo secuestrado por Pablo Escobar. Hechos como éstos no han ocurrido y es muy difícil que ocurran en México, donde no han existido territorios con ausencia de Estado durante 40 años como en Colombia; el Estado mexicano ha sido más bien omnipresente y fuerte y el colombiano ausente y débil.

As Villalobo's points out, Colombia's conflict was more multi-layered and complex than what is happening in Mexico. It involved many more actors and factions, and a long historical context that is lacking in Mexico.

Mexico City and other urban areas like Guadalajara have largely escaped the conflict. the drug-fueled violence in Colombia on the other hand, reached the centers of power in Bogota. Top rungs of the judiciary, political class, media, police and army were objects of a terror campaign by the cartel. Were the Zetas or others doing to Mexico what the Medellin Cartel did to Colombia, Mexico City would be in a State of Siege with car bombs going off against Federal buildings.

One other key point that the author makes is that Mexico's State presence, overall, is much stronger than Colombia's. The Colombian conflict has always had a territorial aspect to it: the lack of a strong state presence in vast swaths of the territory where illegal activities take place. Mexico's PRI created a fairly strong state presence everywhere, and even under democratization, Mexico's State presence is fairly vigorous in most of the country.
In another essay also in Nexos, he explores some of these issues further.

He sees Mexican media and opinion acting as if they were in a vacuum, failing to place the violence in a comparative, regional perspective. When presented this way, there is an over-emphasis on what is wrong - as well as what appears to be going wrong - over more measured analysis.

Texas Gets Globalized and Does Good Economically

Daniel Gross writing in Slate -Lone Star Why Texas is doing so much better economically than the rest of the nation.

While its political leaders may occasionally flirt with secession, Texas thrives on connection. It surpassed California several years ago as the nation's largest exporting state. Manufactured goods like electronics, chemicals, and machinery account for a bigger chunk of Texas' exports than petroleum does. In the first two months of 2010, exports of stuff made in Texas rose 24.3 percent, to $29 billion, from 2009. That's about 10 percent of the nation's total exports. There are more than 700,000 Texan jobs geared to manufacturing goods for export, according to Patrick Jankowski, vice president of research at the Greater Houston Partnership. "A lot of it is capital goods that the Asian, Latin American, and African [countries] are using to build their economies."

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Country of Origin Information on U.S. Latinos

just released data from the Pew Hispanic Center

Nearly two-thirds of Hispanics in the United States self-identify as being of Mexican origin. Nine of the other ten largest Hispanic origin groups—Puerto Rican, Cuban, Salvadoran, Dominican, Guatemalan, Colombian, Honduran, Ecuadorian and Peruvian—account for about a quarter of the U.S. Hispanic population. There are differences across these ten population groups in the share of each that is foreign born, citizen (by birth or naturalization), and proficient in English. They are also of varying age, tend to live in different areas within the U.S, and have varying levels of education, homeownership rates, income, and poverty rates.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Great Quote

"Politics are politics, crime is crime, but in Chicago they occasionally overlap. The line between virtue and vice meanders madly—effective government on one side, connections on the other.”

Saul Bellow


Read more: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2008/07/21/080721fa_fact_lizza?printable=true#ixzz0kKwL5KEP