THE MILITARIZATION OF COUNTERDRUG OPERATIONS IN MEXICO
By: Carlos Martinez
Mexico is at war; a present day armed conflict is taking place between the Mexican government and drug cartels within their border. Mexico is geographically placed in a unique position against the economic foundation of supply of demand. The position, a critical border with the United States comprised of nearly 2,000 miles from the Gulf of Mexico to the Pacific Ocean that serves as a main supply route of illicit drugs. Mexican policy, influence, and direct action against the War on Drugs continue to be a source of much controversy. The purpose of this paper is to present an overview of Mexico’s military role in their drug war. The paper will begin with a historic Mexican overview of drugs in the country followed by the political and governmental systems in place and finally the military role in counter narcotics their war. While there are myriad of factors that impact the escalation that drove Mexico to involve a national military resource, first we must employ the old adage ‘to understand the present we must turn to Mexico’s past.’
At the end of the 19th century drugs such as marijuana, opiates and cocaine were commonly used in Mexico for medical reasons. Opiate derivatives such as Laudanum, morphine and heroin along with pharmaceuticals such as cocaine, coca wines and marijuana cigarettes were prescribed by doctors These drugs could be obtained in pharmacies, popular mercados (markets) and even hardware stores (Wikipedia 2008, p.1). Concerned authorities limited quantity and quality to protect consumers. Addicts were not considered criminals, just ill persons.
The 20th century marked a period of international regulation; major governments began to emplace control measures and special laws to punish offenders. The Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914, approved in the United States aimed at controlling illicit drug consumption, began the official perception for anti-drug...