Thursday, June 02, 2011

Monterrey Falling

Tourism continues in Monterrey:
See Travel Plus Wine
I have written several posts about the growing violence in northern Mexico, particularly in Juarez and areas near my former home in the Rio Grande Valley. A friend from the Valley recently shared an important if frightening  report about the growing violence in Monterrey, a prosperous city that is increasingly controlled by the Zetas. The analysis -- entitled If Monterrey Falls, Mexico Falls -- describes the vastly increased spatial scale of Zetas operations, and the threat posed to Mexico as a whole. At the title implies, a situation is rapidly developing in northeast Mexico that approaches an insurgent-state condition.

The immediate cause of the turmoil, of course, is the ruthless criminality of the Zetas themselves, but damage they do is made possible by several underlying factors. The incredible profits generated by U.S. demand for illicit drugs -- even marijuana -- has funded the rise of the Zetas. They readily obtain weapons from poorly regulated gun sales in the United States and more recently from the military-grade weapons with which we flooded Central America in the 1980s and 1990s.

Perhaps more important than either of these factors, though, is the huge income gap in Monterrey. While a few live in walled palaces and commute by helicopter, many work in factories for $5.25 a day. The low wages contribute to huge profits for maquila owners while providing those of us in the United States cheap access to a variety of consumer goods.

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