| A shootout in a border city that leaves five alleged drug traffickers sprawled dead on the street and seven police wounded. A police chief and his bodyguards gunned down outside his house in another border city. Four bridges into the United States shut down by protesters who want the military out of their towns and who officials say are backed by narcotraffickers.|
That was Mexico on Tuesday.
What is most remarkable is that it was not much different from Monday or Sunday or any day in the past few years.
Mexico, a country with a nearly 2,000-mile border with the United States, is undergoing a horrifying wave of violence that some are likening to a civil war. Drug traffickers battle fiercely with each other and Mexican authorities. The homicide rate reached a record level in 2008 and indications are that the carnage could be exceeded this year.
Every day, newspapers and the airwaves are filled with stories and images of beheadings and other gruesome killings. Wednesday's front page on Mexico City's La Prensa carried a large banner headline that simply said "Hysteria!" The entire page was devoted to photos of bloody bodies and grim-faced soldiers. One photo shows a man with two young children walking across a street with an army vehicle in the background, with a soldier standing at a turret machine gun.
Larry Birns, director of the Washington-based Council on Hemispheric Affairs, calls it "a sickening vertigo into chaos and plunder."
By most accounts, that's not hyperbole.
"The grisly portrait of the violence is unprecedented and horrific," said Robert Pastor, a Latin America national security adviser for President Jimmy Carter in the late 1970s.
Thursday, February 19, 2009
Drug violence spins Mexico toward 'civil war'
Nation: Soon it will be a toss up on which place is more dangerous, Iraq or Mexico.