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ANOTHER WAR? Drug Trafficking as a Security Threat

By J. (Jessica) Oliva González

Abstract

Abstract The latest Mexican administration, from 2006 until the first semester of 2010 -when this work was finished - has seen the rise of violence within the territory as never before. Despite the declared “war on drugs” of President Felipe Calderon, the illicit activity of drug trafficking has not diminished significantly, nor has the consumption. Moreover, the violence, money-laundering and corruption, between other related social problems, have spread. To reduce the trade of narcotics, the United States (US) Federal government has for years relied mainly on coercion against drug suppliers of cocaine, marijuana and poppy farmers. With Calderon, Mexico decided to follow the American strategy of the use of force against drug dealers in order to end the illegal activity. Yet, coercion has created negative side effects and the strategies of both countries are seen the responsible for worsening drug problems. This work looks at one of the side effects of the Mexican-American strategy: the rise of violence. Often, initiatives of the US and Mexico have coincided with geographical shifts in drug production and trafficking. The one that has had the most profound effect on the relationship of these countries is the one tracing the drug trade from Colombia to Mexico and then onto the American market. The strategies from the American government have motivated cartels to strengthen their organizations, to fight for the dominance of territory and to develop new techniques, either surpassing the authority or getting its cooperation on both the Mexican and American side, in order to maintain the profitable business of the trade of drugs. For years the cartels have enjoyed the protection of both governments, but with the change of the ruling party in Mexico and the open and declared “war on drugs”, the population has been affected with the notably higher rates of violence for the last three and a half years. The conception of security has a different meaning for each country and that is part of what does not allow Mexico and the US to make each other´s strategies fit into a single one that could bring the desired results - the control on drug trafficking. The former is worried about public security while the later with national security. The aim of this work is to understand and explain this difference throughout social constructivism and relate it to the evident rise of violence with regard to combating drug trafficking, taking into account the realist approach to explain the material forces that influences this conception. The work does reveal that American and Mexican initiatives against drugs have contributed to the rise of violence and a change of drug policy from both countries is urgently needed. This work is rooted in the discipline of International Relations (IR) and security and intends to contribute to the literature on drug policies and to research on IR and security. This work focuses on illicit activities and therefore extends the spectrum of the discipline. By offering a social constructivist explanation regarding security conception, the present work helps to understand why the drug related problem of violence have become worse at a period during which Mexico has undertaken significant efforts against drug trafficking. The aim is to contribute to the drug policy debate treating the question of policy effectiveness as a secondary issue. Moreover, by looking the case of Mexico vis-à-vis the US and the fight against drugs this work shows how even though both countries have the same goal – control the trade of drugs - they look at the problem differently and thus apply strategies in their own way, blaming one another for each.

Year: 2010
OAI identifier: oai:ub.rug.nl:dbi/4ddcc4844f318
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