The "Mexico as a failed state" narrative continues to get lots of media traction. Face it, the failed state narrative has doom, gloom, disaster, anarchy, and terror, all on Americas border. The counter-story, which is the truth, lacks Hollywood fear: Mexico is fighting a long overdue war of reform and modernization. Moreover, it is making slow but steady progress. Drug cartels were killing cops and citizens prior to December 2006 when President Felipe Calderon launched the Cartel War. The embedded corruption and increasing violence were reasons Calderon decided Mexico needed to act. Few people remember that Calderons predecessor, President Vicente Fox, said the country needed to act against drug cartel violence, and he did that in 2001. Calderon has had the vision and guts to go to war on a large-scale and at least begin addressing Mexicos deep-seated problems in a systemic fashion. But tell that to the Failed State theorists.
April 25, 2011: Security personnel continue to discover mass graves near the town of San Fernando in Tamaulipas state (see report of April 6). So far excavators have pulled 177 bodies from the sites. Investigators say most of the people appear to have been killed with a sledgehammer in other words, execution by sledgehammer. Around 120 of the victims have been identified as people kidnapped by cartel gunmen at roadblocks in late March. Many of the dead were migrant workers from Central American countries. Why kill migrant workers? Extorting money and asserting absolute control of the area are two reasons. But the Zetas thrive on their reputation for lawlessness and their willingness to kill without mercy. Drug cartels also try to enlist migrants to carry contraband and smuggle drugs into the US.
April 21, 2011: Police have found over two dozen bodies dumped in a pit in Durango state. The Sinaloa and Zetas cartels are engaged in a turf war over the control of Durango state.
Cartel gunmen launched an attack on the town of Miguel Aleman (Tamaulipas state). The gunmen threw hand grenades at several stores, then burned the businesses. Miguel Aleman is located across the Rio Grande River from Roma, Texas.
April 20, 2011: Police raided a house in Reynosa (Nuevo Leon state) and freed 68 people who had been kidnapped, from a bus, by cartel gunmen. State police in Nuevo Leon also arrested 45 local policemen in the town of Cadereyta. The local cops are charged with corruption and having ties to Los Zetas drug cartel.
April 19, 2011: State police in Hidalgo state arrested 28 people law enforcement officials believe are members of Los Zetas drug cartel. The arrests took place in and around the town of Tula. Several of the suspects are believed to have been involved in a spectacular car bomb attack that killed a policeman on January 22nd.
April 16, 2011: Police found six bullet-ridden bodies in the city of Acapulco (Guerrero state). Four of the dead had been engaged in a firefight in an alley. The murders have led, not surprisingly, to a decrease in the number of tourists (domestic and international) visiting Acapulco.
April 13, 2011: Security officials reported that so far state and federal police have arrested 16 local police officers in San Fernando (Tamaulipas state). The local cops are charged with protecting a group of Los Zetas cartel gunmen who have been involved in killing migrant workers passing through the town. The murdered workers were buried in several mass graves near the town (see report of April 6).
April 9, 2011: A recent estimated that over 11,000 Central and South American migrants were either kidnapped or robbed, between April and September 2010, by Mexican drug cartels.
April 6, 2011: Several mass graves have been found near the town of San Fernando in Tamaulipas state. The mass graves were discovered after a Mexican marine detachment set up a camp near San Fernando and captured nine members of the Zeta cartel. Marines have reported there are other grave sites in the area.
April 5, 2011: Concerns about vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (VBIEDs), better known as car bombs, is rising in Mexico. The U.S. consulate in Monterrey now has a row of concrete barriers in front of it. The barriers do two things. They control traffic and they provide a blast buffer should a cartel try to detonate a car bomb near the consulate. The Monterrey consulate has suffered small arms and grenade attacks.
April 1, 2011: A secret cable from the U.S. embassy in Mexico exposed by Wikileaks claims the 90 percent of the weapons used by Mexican drug cartels come from sources in Central America. Light automatic weapons, grenades, and some anti-tank weapons were stolen from Central American military units and then smuggled into Mexico. This story runs counter to the allegations that US sources (pawn shops, gun shows, and US gunrunners) have armed Mexicos cartels.