Terrorism and Mass Graves in North America

Many would agree that Mexico is our best neighbor. Not only do we share a 2000-mile border, we share many common interests in commerce, international policy, religion, and the environment.

So why do Americans disregard, or simply ignore, the terrorism and wholesale murder of thousands of Mexican citizens caused by the US-led War on Drugs? Why don’t we care that our best neighbors are enduring the worst terrorism of the 21st century?

Perhaps it’s arrogance or discrimination.  Maybe both.  The fact remains that a majority of Americans don’t know what’s happening in Mexico – or they don’t care – or they think it’s somehow justifiable.

Based on new figures from Mexican authorities, the death toll from our War on Drugs now stands at approximately 800,000. If drugs remain illegal in the US for another 3-4 years, the death toll in Mexico could exceed one million. It will go even higher if the country erupts into civil war. There’s plenty of evidence the Mexican people have lost faith in their government, and evidence the lawlessness and terrorism are already out of control. The US State Department is considering closure of US Consulate offices in Mexico because it’s too dangerous for US personnel to remain in the country. There are now hundreds of mass graves across Mexico.  Thousands of reports of people simply vanishing.

Acapulco was once a popular destination for tourists. It’s now the most dangerous city in the Western Hemisphere. Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and other tourist destinations have also become quite unsafe.

I haven’t seen any figures that indicate terrorist groups in the middle east (or elsewhere in the world) have killed anywhere near the number of people dying in Mexico; yet we become very disturbed at news of a beheading or water-boarding overseas. Many methods employed by the cartels and gangs in Mexico, though, make water-boarding or beheading seem mild or even humane. Enforced disappearance might be the very worst type of terrorism – and it’s occurring at an alarming rate in Mexico. Other methods of torture and killing are simply too gruesome to comprehend.  Flaying alive, burying alive, boiling alive in acid and lye – the horror of Mexican terrorism is unprecedented.

Propaganda and half-truths about drugs have kept the American public in ignorance over the likely outcomes of drug legalization in the US for so long we’re not even willing to consider it. What’s more, the truths of our experience with prohibition in the 1920s have been forgotten. The per capita crime rate in the US fell by half when prohibition was ended. Alcohol addiction actually declined after prohibition ended, though not by much.*  More importantly, the rate of recovery from alcoholism increased significantly after prohibition was lifted in 1933.

But we’ve obviously not learned from our own experience.

On a balance, the impact of legalized recreational marijuana in three US states has been mainly positive.  Those states have abolished policies that cause loss of life.  Note that over half the Mexican cartels’ profits are derived from illegal marijuana in the US.  I’ve not seen a single report of death(s) caused by legal marijuana in Washington, Colorado or Alaska.  There’s bound to have been a few, no?

Illegal marijuana, on the other hand, is obviously contributing to horrific terrorism and thousands of deaths – right here in North America.

Legalization of drugs in the US would have many positive effects.  Regulation and taxation would insure greater safety in the drug-using population (drugs would no longer be diluted or concocted with unknown ingredients), greater numbers would seek recovery from addiction, and greatly increased funding for recovery programs and policies would assure those addicts get the help they need. Most importantly, legalization and regulation of recreational drugs in the US would stop the terrorism and killing in Mexico.

Opposition to legalization crosses all political and social lines, too.  It’s not a democratic problem.  It’s not a republican problem.  It’s really not a political problem at all.  It is our problem and it trumps every other problem we face today.

Before we go theorizing or delving into the potential dangers of legalizing recreational drugs, though (impossible without regulation), shouldn’t we first stop the killing? Shouldn’t we be the ones who stand up and stop the terrorism occurring in our neighbor’s homeland? It’s the worst terrorism of the 21st century and its occurring right here in North America. WE are accountable for these atrocities. WE are the cause.

We might advertise ourselves to be champions of freedom and peace in the world – great advocates for the victims of terrorism. But the truth, unfortunately, is that our behavior runs contrary to the ideals we claim to espouse. The American people and policies of their democratically elected government are causing the worst terrorism of the 21st century, and probably the worst terrorism ever experienced in North America.


* There is no proven correlation between addiction rates and availability of addictive substances. Drugs do not cause addiction.