Guards and officials at a prison in northern Mexico let inmates out, lent them guns and sent them off in official vehicles to carry out drug-related killings, including the massacre of 17 people last week, prosecutors claim.
–“Convicts used as hit squad by Mexican prison governor,” The Telegraph (Telegraph.co.uk), July 26, 2010
The United States has ignored Mexico and Latin America for over a decade, with disastrous results. As the United States and NATO continue in the ninth year of the war against the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, the degree to which public order has deteriorated in Mexico and other Latin American countries has been obscured by events half a world away. Interest in foreign policy among the American electorate is low, and what there is has been overwhelmingly directed toward events in the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Meanwhile, public order in Mexico has worsened dramatically, while other states in the region also have been increasingly weakened by the influence of drug gangs and cartels. In Guatemala, according to reports, the office of the Attorney General was briefly taken over by individuals close to the drug cartels.
See, e.g., Tim Johnson, “How Guatemala almost went ‘narco'”, McClatchey Newspapers, July 8, 2010
Every once in a while, a news story or event flashes across the world’s consciousness for a brief second, like a lightning flash illuminating a dark countryside. The news stories about the director of a Mexican prison who used inmates as a hit squad represents one such lightning flash.
It also suggests that the continued low priority given to Latin America by the Obama administration, notwithstanding Hillary Clinton’s own lightning-like visits to the region, will continue to have dire consequences for both the region and the United States.
If the rule of law is important in Iraq, should we not also pay attention to what is going on in Mexico and Guatemala?
The Trenchant Observer
Comments are invited.