Drug War’s Latest Victim: The PAN

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Yesterday, the Mexican people handed President Felipe Calderon and his PAN party a stunning rebuke, giving the PRI—the party that held insanely corrupt sway over the country for 70 years—the upper hand in Congress and many of the contested governorships, including some thought to be PAN strongholds.

The reason? Well the economy for one, but also that Mexicans are fed up with drug-related violence consuming their country and don’t think that Calderon’s war on the cartels has done much good. (A war that we are helping to fund.)

That’s no surprise to anyone who reads Charles Bowden’s harrowing piece on Emilio Gutíerrez Soto, a reporter who found himself on the wrong side of corrupt army officials who are using the pretext of the drug war to wage their own bid for power. Calderon may honestly be trying to root out corruption, but it is so deep rooted, the cartels so bloodthirsty, that Meixcan citizens are fed up.

The military has again flooded northern Mexico, ever since President Felipe Calderón assumed office in December 2006 with a margin so razor thin that many Mexicans think he is an illegitimate president. One of his first acts was to declare a war on the nation’s thriving drug industry, and his favorite tool was to be the Mexican Army, portrayed as less corrupt than the local or national police. Now some 45,000 soldiers, nearly 25 percent of the Army, are marauding all over the country, escalating the mayhem that consumes Mexico. In 2008, more than 6,000 Mexicans died in the drug violence, a larger loss than the United States has endured during the entire Iraq War. Since 2000, two dozen reporters have been officially recorded as murdered, at least seven more have vanished, and an unknown number have fled into the United States. But all numbers in Mexico are slippery, because people have so many ways of disappearing. In 2008, 188 Mexicans—cops, reporters, businesspeople—sought political asylum at US border crossings, more than twice as many as the year before. This is the wave of gore the man rides as he heads north.

Emilio has applied for asylum. The cartels have threatened his US lawyer, who now starts his car with a remote control. Read the piece. Watch his interview with Reporters Without Borders. And then contemplate the fact that the cartels are openly advocating for the candidates of their choice, infiltrating our border patrol, and already operate in 259 US cities.

This is your war on drugs.

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This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

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