Page last updated at 11:15 GMT, Thursday, 26 March 2009

Drug violence: Views from Mexico

Drug gang killings in Mexico claimed the lives of more than 6,000 people last year and around 1,000 so far this year.

The drug cartels are fighting both one another for control of trafficking routes into the US, and the police and troops sent to tackle them.

Here, four people living in different parts of Mexico, discuss how the fight against drugs can succeed.


I live in northern Mexico, in one of the drugs and arms smuggling routes.

Morelia, western Mexico
Mexico has deployed thousands of troops to tackle traffickers

Things have changed dramatically in the last year. Five people were shot close to our office on Saturday. There are killings every day. You can't go out at night anymore, you can't go to restaurants and bars.

Violence is between drug cartels, but it is a problem for innocent people if they get caught in the cross fire. The security situation is very bad and it is making the lives of ordinary Mexicans an absolute misery.

When a drug trafficking group loses some of its income, they look for other easy options. So they turn to kidnappings.

Two of my friends were kidnapped - one American and one Dutch. They paid the ransom and left the country.

The US has to tackle demand and stop money and weapons going to Mexico

This is a big industrial area with many foreign-owned companies. Many of the foreigners here can't cope anymore and are leaving.

We are thinking of relocating to another part of Mexico and we'll probably leave in a couple of months. Our company employs 25 people - what will happen to those people?

Mexico can't fight them alone. The US needs to help. If you go to the border crossing in Juarez, you'll discover that there is no control on the US end. Weapons and money are freely coming to the country to fight the military.

The US are the consumer and they do nothing to help us. The US has to tackle demand and stop money and weapons going to Mexico.


This city has been strongly affected by the drug violence since September 2008, when blasts tore through crowds celebrating independence day. Eight people died.

This week we've had shootings in broad daylight. People are now very scared and don't go out in the streets with the same tranquillity as before. They rush from the building to the car to minimise the chance of being caught in a shooting. Tourism has also decreased.

The drug cartels go hand in hand with power

I am a journalist and this fear makes our job more difficult. It's hard to speak to people as they become more withdrawn.

I don't think the US government's decision to militarise the borders is right. The US authorities don't respect Mexican migrants, they consider them a hassle.

Mexicans are already dying while trying to cross the desert, but I think the death toll will be greater if the US forces are involved.

The drug cartels go hand in hand with power. Unfortunately, drug-related crime is very organised, whereas we, the civil society, are not.

I think the recent protests against violence will not achieve anything, but it is a way for the people to tell our government that we don't agree with the current situation and need them to take appropriate measures to end the violence.


Drug trafficking has been present in this region for many years, with the Arellano Felix cartel dominating the trade with the US.

Last year, after important members of this delinquent group were arrested, a power struggle within the group started, which caused many executions and murders in the region.

We are left at the mercy of the drug cartels

Since then, our amazement by their violent expression grows every day. Decapitations, bodies dissolved in acid, executions - we've never seen anything like this before.

What worries me most is that the authorities seem to be indifferent to the violence, whether it's because of complicity or incompetence. This leaves us at the mercy of the drug cartels. Only the army has succeeded in the battle against drug trafficking in this country.

This affects the perception of foreign investors and tourists. The number of tourists here in Baja California is at its lowest in decades, mainly because the US government alerts its citizens about the violence in the region.

The only solution to the problem I can see is to get rid of the corruption within the police and those in power. Without corruption, drug trafficking will not be on such a large scale. We, the good citizens, outnumber the drug dealers.


I live in a tourist resort, close to Cancun. Where we are is a completely different country from where the problems are. There's been no violence here whatsoever.

The violence is confined to a few border areas and within the drug cartels while the rest of the country is peaceful.

Peopel attend the spring qequinox at Chichen Itza on 21 March
The tourist trade forms an important part of Mexico's economy

The problem is, you don't get that impression when watching the news. The international media's hysterical approach is having a negative impact on the tourism industry here. American tourists are cancelling their holidays in Mexico for fear that there is violence everywhere.

In addition, the US has updated its travel advisory asking citizens to be careful when visiting certain areas.

Many US teenagers go to Mexico during the spring holiday and the other day Fox news was saying: Don't let your kids go to Mexico, they may never come back!

The media like to sensationalise the news - we had a similar problem a few years ago when there was a hurricane.

This is bad news for many thousands of Mexicans who rely on the tourism industry to feed their families.

The US is getting worried about the drug-related violence here and is beginning to acknowledge that this is not just Mexico's problem. But it needs to do more to reduce the demand for consumption and to make sure that its arms don't cross the border with Mexico.

Print Sponsor

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific