This article I wrote for the Toronto Star gives a bit of context to the post below. Namely, it shows drug war deaths keep escalating. And with a rocky start to 2012 (212 drug war deaths in the week of January 1 - 7), everyone I have interviewed thus far this year believes there is no end in sight. Full article here:
MEXICO CITY—More than 47,500 people have been killed in Mexico since President Felipe Calderon started his military-led offensive against the drug cartels in 2006, according to new data released Wednesday by the country’s attorney general.
The latest figures show that 12,903 people have been killed as a result of the country’s drug war between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30, 2011 — a 10 per cent increase from the same period in the previous year.
The report showed Mexico’s northern border region to be the most violent, with Ciudad Juárez again the most violent city. But municipalities further south, such as Acapulco and Veracruz, also rank in the top 10, while states such as Quintana Roo — home of Cancun — remain on par with Canadian crime rates.
Rumours had been circulating recently that the government would no longer publish this kind of data, due to the widespread unpopularity of the ongoing military strategy. But the death toll actually exceeded the projections of newspapers such as Reforma, whose ominous “execution meter” counted 12,359 deaths in 2011.
If government estimates stay at similar rates in the final three months of 2011, the official count would exceed 17,000 — the deadliest year yet for Mexico.
I came across this excellent blog post today, by Dawn Paley, a fellow Canadian who covers Mexico - amongst other things. You should read the whole thing.
The pic is mine, shot in East Tijuana last year.
Royce offers me a candy, joking that it is laced with drugs. I take it and set it on the table in front of me.
He proceeds to pull out a pack of Camel Lights, and asks me if I want one. No thanks, I say. He lights up. “You want the truth about what is going on here?” he asks, talking quietly. “The truth is this place isn’t fucked, it is totally fucked up beyond all repair, de chingada madre,” he says.
Royce launches into gruesome detail about a recent massacre, fascinated, fixated by the fact that they removed the victims tongue and ten fingers, and stitched them onto his ass. “Did the press report on that?” I asked. “Well, they only reported on the tongue and one finger… Not all ten,” he said. I put my pen to paper to take note and he begs me not to, sliding his finger across his neck.
Almost a year ago, I wrote this blog post about a Chicago hospital's decision to deport a man. He had been left completely paralyzed after a fall on the job site. He was undocumented. So, when unable to pay his bills, they put him on a plane to Oaxaca, headed for a hospital that everyone knew lacked sufficient supplies to keep him alive.
Sadly, this article I came across proves them right: he died on New Years Day, and never even made it to his house.
For anyone remotely familiar with the Isthmo region where he was sent to, it is painstakingly obvious that the proper medical care could and would not be provided.
I get that immigration is a sticky issue, lacking clear lines. But there must be some kind of compassion weighed in there sometimes, even if it comes at a high financial cost in extreme cases like this.
Advocate Christ Medical Center says they are reviewing their policies. They shouldn't be the only ones.
Though I largely don't believe in the resolutions around such a blurry time of the year, my main one - a repeat - is to read and write more. This means writing outside of endless emails and formal articles or radio scripts (which I also hope to continue writing lots of), and not just reading endless online news about Mexico and the region: books. In the 6 days so far, this has been going okay.
Tied to this is a sincere attempt to get back to blogging, even though it seemed a somewhat dying art form in 2011.
Speaking of which, this is a short piece I wrote for Monocle about the Mexican presidential race falling in 2012. It also aired on Monocle's radio station Monocle 24, but the audio part does not get archived. Full text here:
Twelve years after Y2K proved to be just a number, doomsdayers are getting another kick at the apocalyptic can. Mayan calendars famously mark 21 December 2012 as the end-of-days. Though scholars almost unanimously decry this as a misreading of such almanacs, the topic continues to garner interest.
With Mexico’s 1 July election looming, one small group has similar ideas of walking down their own 2012 dead end. Two main candidates now hope to woo their way to Mexico’s presidency. The winner faces the immense challenge of cleaning up a country marred with widespread corruption and impunity amidst a grotesque and violent drug war...