Up close and personal with Mexico’s drug war
Dawn Paley, The Tyee, October 18, 2010 12:00 pm
Mexico City based journalist Carlos Fazio is asking Vancouverites to consider the wider context in Mexico if they’re planning to travel south this winter.
“There are zones like Acapulco, Cancun, and Puerto Vallarta, where the violence is more or less controlled,” said Fazio, who’s in town to give a series of talks about the situation in Mexico. “But there are other parts of Mexico where these policies, this war on drugs… has brought a situation of chaos and a multiplication of violence.”
Fazio admits that there has always been violence in Mexico, but he says that over the past few years there has been a change in the characteristics and in the level of violence.
“Before there wasn’t people getting their throats slit, being dismembered, bodies showing up naked, or stacked up in piles of twenty or more, bodies hung off of bridges and so on,” he said in an interview with The Tyee this morning.Fazio connects the escalation of the war in Mexico with the December 2006 inauguration of current president Félipe Calderón after an election widely seen as fraudulent. From the beginning, Calderón adopted a pro-military position – including promenading around in a military uniform – that no previous president had taken.
“Little by little, what [Calderón] has done is to get the people used to seeing the military outside of their barracks,” said Fazio. He pointed to Ciudad Juarez – a border city in the country’s north that few tourists would visit – as a laboratory for counterinsurgency urban warfare in Mexico.
“With the excuse of the war on drugs, what is being prepared is a war against the people,” said Fazio. The similarities between the war in Colombia and that in Mexico are striking, and Mexico recently joined Colombia as a massive recipient of military-specific “aid” from the U.S. under a plan popularly known as “Plan Mexico.”
Fazio, who works for Mexican daily La Jornada, also teaches political science at the largest university in the country. He says being a journalist there is no easy job: last year, Mexico topped the list of the most dangerous countries to practice the trade. In addition to targeted assassinations of journalists covering the worsening situation of violence in the country, paramilitary groups have targeted newsrooms with grenade attacks.
Tomorrow evening, Fazio will be giving a talk called “Militarization, War against Drug Trafficking & Human Rights in Mexico” tomorrow night at Harbour Centre, organized by the group Building Bridges.
When: 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday Oct. 19, 2010 Venue: Harbour Centre-Simon Fraser University Address: 515 West Hastings St Room 1900