MEXICO Country Studies: A brief, comprehensive study of Mexico

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Bureau of Justice Statistical Data showing the volume increase incarceration statistics [37]. The main policy aim was to increase eradication of crops such as marijuana and opium. This eradication hoped to lead to a reduction of drugs such as heroin crossing the border. However, the prevalence of the drugs and the inadequate salaries for low-level government employees and law enforcement led to political and police corruption being common in Mexico [36]. Mexico has a high level of poverty within the country which presents opportunities for drug manufacturers and traffickers to offer financial incentives to individuals and their families in order to manipulate the governing system.

In during President George W. However, placing less emphasis on finding the cause of drug abuse in the U. S [36]. Such action could have reduced the number of individuals going through the legal process thus reducing costs and workload. Unfortunately, despite political efforts to solve the drug issues a huge problem of drug trafficking and abuse remains to this day in the U.

Over the decades, the U. As mentioned in the previous section, the U. This targeted Mexico as a key site for opium eradication and increased security at borders to deter traffickers from importing the drug into the U. By no means did this mean that the authorities supported and aided drug traffickers and manufacturers within the country, but it explains the passive attitude towards criminal groups manufacturing and trafficking drugs.

For the most part, this frustrated the U. For example by the Mexican government passed a law to prohibit opium trade across its borders; this was further supported by the ban on importation of any narcotic substance in [1]. This approach progressed into the formation of Mexican decree to outlaw the exportation of heroin and marijuana from the country. Each act resulted in tightening security at the border crossing with the U. The adjustment and quick progression of the law in Mexico is attributed to the need to pacify the U.

In the early twentieth century Mexico depended heavily on the importation of U. This furthered the need for conformity to the U. Mexico along with the other countries had previously relied on the U. This reduced the amount Mexico had to rely on the U. However, with the incomes in this area of work low, many farmers were persuaded to use their land to cultivate illicit crops instead because the profit margins were more financially beneficial.

Carlos Salinas de Gortari assumed the Mexican presidency in December , he faced the daunting task of coping with a more powerful, internationally connected Mexican drug smuggling business [1]. Eleven days after taking office Salinas assured a visiting U. Salinas declared that drug trafficking was the number one threat facing the nation, he entered a bilateral treaty with the US in called the Treaty of Cooperation for Mutual Legal Assistance. This extended to giving power to the military to become involved in drug eradication. The military became supreme authority and in cities such as Oaxaca, Sinaloa, Jalisco and Guerrero the only authority [42].

The build-up of the Mexican anti-drug effort was particularly impressive as budget cuts in government were being made at the time [1]. The graph shows no significant increase in eradication with growth fluctuating around the 15,hectare mark. These stagnant figures in eradication could be the result of corruption within the government which is explained within the next section.

Salinas expanded police powers however many argued that this only deepened the penetration levels of corruption within government. Salinas would have benefitted from reforming Legal enforcement agencies and battling corruption head on rather than just extending the power within already corrupt forces. This would have given a better chance to eliminate corruption from within the legal system. Before NAFTA it was assumed that Mexico would be the greatest benefactor from the agreement due to its close proximity to the powerful U.

The tariff rate in Mexico fell from 12 percent in to 1. In addition, U. The outcome of this was to increase legitimate trade between the U. This was advantageous for the underdeveloped Latin American country and helped develop agricultural business in Mexico. The agreement did not result in the desired social and economic revolution for Mexico. President Salinas was blamed for the decreased standard of living, economic difficulties, and the massive corruption that occurred during his administration [44]. The policies of free market trade and economic integration enhanced the trade of illicit substances across the U.

Mexican border [45]. The unseen effects were two-fold. Mexican drug trafficking organisations smuggled illicit drugs to markets in the U. An unintentional increase in drug related violence plagued the streets and remains to this day. Salinas drug eradication efforts were followed by presidents who preceded him. The pattern accelerated greatly during the Fox and Caldron administrations, which deployed tens of thousands of troops throughout the country [45].

Efforts to reduce violence brought mixed results. Many argue militarization has produced a dramatic increase in violation of human rights, contributing to corruption and defection of Mexican military personnel [45]. Graph 3: Is reproduced using from United Nations Statistics to show the extent of homicides which occur in the country by comparing the data to that of countries with abundant tolls, such as Iraq and Afghanistan [48].

Over the past few decades Mexico has been the main country supplying the demand for heroin in the U. There are three main underlying factors contributing to this and these are shown in Figure 10 below. First and foremost is the extreme poverty in Mexico with the poor provision of clean water, good nutrition, decent health care and education in many areas. Such poverty has increased the willingness of farmers to produce illicit profitable crops to provide for their families.

Finally, the legalisation of Marijuana in the U. This combination of factors has resulted in the increase of the heroin drug trade across the U. This expansion has resulted in an explosion in violence associated with drug trafficking spreading across Mexico claiming thousands of lives and reaching such a high level of intensity and ferocity many citizens have become paralysed by fear [5]. The violence stems from the DTOs which are often referred to as cartels.

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There are several highly influential drug cartels in Mexico and these groups profit by feeding the U. Multiple DTOs within certain areas of Mexico have combined to make a variety of cartel groups with names based upon their locations. The four main drug trafficking organisations are; the Sinaloa Cartel, the Tijuana Cartel, the Juarez Cartel and the Gulf Cartel; these groups are mostly located in northern Mexico in close proximity to border crossings [46].

These organisations have significantly increased the drug trafficking at the U. This vast quantity of money is often used to bribe and corrupt Government bodies, Mexican law enforcement and federal police forces in order to actively support the cartels, to turn a blind eye to the cartel activities or protect them from the law [5].

The DTOs assert this power over law enforcement agencies by monetary persuasion and by the threat of kidnapping, torture and violence upon themselves or loved ones as a form of blackmail. This endemic corruption is rife throughout the military, police and political bodies in Mexico and allows heroin and other illicit substances to be smuggled across the border with relative ease to feed the U.

Figure Summary highlighting reasons for Mexican farmers being the main provider heroin to the U. In October two former heads of the Interpol Police Force in Mexico were arrested for alleged ties with the Sinaloa cartel. In addition to this in November of the same year Noe Ramirez Mandujano, head of the Attorneys General Office, was arrested and accused of accepting bribes from a drug cartel [47]. These cases illustrate the extent of corruption which is occurring within the Mexican legal system.

Furthermore, influence is also exerted by the DTOs on the Mexican media. The cartels use similar techniques of bribery, corruption and threats of violence on the media in an attempt to influence reporting and sway public opinion in their favour. They are able to manipulate the media to promote biased reporting in favour of the cartels [46]. Mexican cartels are portrayed more favourably than they should be due to this misrepresentation. If reported, the weaknesses of a cartel could potentially allow rival groups to take over with all the associated violence that would involve.

Removal of the pressure on the media by the DTOs would permit the true depiction of cartel influence, corruption and violence associated with the drug trade. If it existed, unbiased objective reporting may positively influence cooperation of Mexican citizens in assisting law enforcement agencies with the issues surrounding drug trafficking as they would better informed about the endemic problems within their country. It is hard to determine the extent of drug related violence in Mexico especially when referring to homicide statistics due to many murders never being investigated [48].

Therefore Mexico has no annual figures on organised crime homicides, however there is general homicide statistics that when compared to other counties are shocking. The Mexican government released statistics that between the years of , the bloodiest years against the cartel rule, in this time period there were more than , homicides recorded [48]. The general consensus when determining cause of death is that if someone is killed by a high-calibre or automatic firearm they would be counted as a victim of organized crime, but if they were strangled or stabbed to death, they would not necessarily be considered a casualty of the drug war [48].

Using this range it can be determined that between 56, people and 82, people have killed as a result of organised crime between the years of Many efforts and revisions of policies have been reviewed in order to eliminate the DTOs from the streets to protect the innocent lives being destroyed. Efforts have been made to destabilise and disrupt DTOs using undercover law enforcement officers with the aim of arresting and imprisoning the most influential leader of groups.

This removal of key members of the groups has had some success; for example, the imprisonment of Cardenas and Arellano. One of the key problems with disrupting the control of DTOs by these arrests was that there was often a surge of violence as rival groups fought to take control. A question remains over whether the disruption of the cartels and the resulting violence loss of life is too high a price to pay in the war against drug trafficking.

An alternative view on drug related violence associated with the disruption of the cartels is that the resultant infighting could cause self-destruction of the DTOs with little input from law enforcement agencies. This view is held by Jorge Hanks, Mayor of Tijuana, a city near the border where violence is prominent. His beliefs also include the suggestion that unless you are involved with the cartels then you should have nothing to fear [46]. Another factor affecting the increased importation of heroin into the U. This greatly reduced the black-market value of marijuana and its value to the Mexican farmer producers.

Border Patrol has been seizing steadily smaller quantities of the drug, from 2. This change in legislation in the U. This has shifted the U. In turn this has had repercussions on the illicit crop production in Mexico. Opium poppy cultivation has grown and is expected to continue to increase due to the market profitability shifting away from the marijuana crop.

This theory is supported by the production statistics provided by the U. International Narcotics Control Strategy Report which states that heroin production has increased from 49 — tonnes between the periods and [54]. A further contribution to the shift in opium poppy production was the fall in profits from the cultivation of legitimate crops. The reduction in profits from the cultivation of both marijuana and legitimate crops resulted in Mexican farming communities increasing production of illicit opium to maintain their income.

The cartels wield substantial power over the Mexican farmers who cultivate illicit crops such as opium for heroin production through financial incentives and threats of violence and intimidation. In order for the DTOs power and influence over farmers to be reduced the issue of poverty and government control in Mexico must be addressed. If the price paid to farmers to produce legitimate crops was increased it could reduce the willingness of the farmers to be compromised by the DTOs to produce illicit crops.

In addition, increased wages and better law enforcement resources may go some way to minimise the hold of the cartels over government officials and ultimately reduce corruption within the system.


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On the other hand, a flaw in this theory may be that the DTOs increase the amounts they are willing to pay to the farmers and government officials to secure production of heroin and other illicit substances. Arguably there needs to be a joint approach between Mexico and the U. Currently the U. Furthermore joint cooperation between the two countries is required to strengthen disincentives to participate in the narcotics industry through increased law enforcement and a purge against corruption 4 [3]. Heroin use has increased across the U. The increase in part can be attributed to an ever-rising population addicted to opiates and the lowering of the price of heroin.

Abuse has moved from minority populations living in impoverished inner city conditions towards young middle class citizen living in close proximity to urban areas. A recent study determined a number of groups within the U. Figure 11 highlights the issues which should be addressed when looking at reasons for the demand of heroin within the U.

Figure Summary highlighting reasons for increased demand for heroin in the U. Analysis of historic statistics show that people who began using heroin in the s were predominantly young men whose first opioid of abuse was heroin [56]. However, more recent users were older men and women living in less urban areas who were introduced to opioids through prescription drugs [56].

Prescription drugs have similar biological effects on the body to heroin. Pain and suffering is reduced by the analgesic properties and there is a close relationship between chemical formulas of both prescribed opiate based drugs and heroin. A consequence of prescription drugs being so closely related in chemical structure is that they have similar addictive properties to heroin and can encourage consummation of the drugs after the prescription period has terminated 5.

Illicit use of prescription pain killers is the fastest growing substance abuse problem in the United States and the main reason for seeking addiction treatment services throughout the world [57] Figure In an attempt to reduce this problem some of the physical properties of opiates have been altered in order to act as a deterrent. For example, OxyContin has been adjusted physically by packing the contents into pills of reduced size increasing the hardness of the medication in order to cause problems for the abuser when snorting or crushing the drug.

It is debatable to what extent the physical transformation have deterred the use of illicit opiates, due to the dependency levels being so great substitution is more likely to result than total deterrence. The total number of opioids prescribed in the United States has skyrocketed in the past 25 years. The United States is biggest consumer globally of opioids, accounting for almost percent of the world total for hydrocodone and 81 percent for oxycodone [58]. This increased use is reflected in deaths from drug poisoning indicated in Graph 4 [59].

Several contributing factors can be linked to this increase in use of opioid prescription drugs.

Mexico Geography/Mexico Country

One factor is that doctors have been more willing to prescribe the pain-relieving drug to the population without a risk assessment to determine to likelihood an addiction may result. Figure Comparison of Chemical composition of common pain killer and heroin, explaining why they have similar effect on the body [57].

Graph 4: Statistical demonstration of the pain killer addiction plaguing the U. Citizens Reproduced from [59]. The market has shifted away from illicit use of prescription opiates towards heroin for many reasons. Firstly, the cheap price of heroin on the illicit market means than many substitute pain killer addictions for that of heroin because the drug can satisfy the craving at a lower cost [61]. The substitution of pain killers with heroin may be a factor in lowering the cost of heroin on the street.

The greater the sales of heroin, the more money street dealers earn which theoretically could result in a chance to offer lower prices to a larger consumer market. However, this may not be the case if dealers maintain prices in order to make increased profit margins.

Lower prices of heroin may be a result of the ever-increasing willingness of Mexican farmers to supply the drug refer to previous section , a case of the supply meeting the demand. In situations where the demand exceeds the supply the price would increase due to competition between buyers for the drug where dealers can charge a higher price. The reverse applies where supply is abundant. The close proximity of Mexico as the producer and the U.

Fewer people are needed to traffic the drug and the traffickers have only one border to cross in order to distribute drugs. This reduces the amount of time and money spent on the trafficking route. However, improved border security and law enforcement will have an effect on the amount of heroin arriving in the U. Many traffickers are unwilling to risk getting caught if there is no substantial monetary gain. This could be the reason for the slight plateau of heroin prices shown in Graph 5 below [62]. Graph 5: Representation of the decline in value of heroin available on the streets of the U.

An escalation in border security theoretically may drive up the price of heroin in the U.

The National-Level Significance of Mexican Opium Production

However, this may result in a shift in the dynamics of the problem onto another drug rather than stop the user from abusing completely. Cities are reporting an increase in heroin overdose deaths and that they are more commonly found in suburban areas and outlying counties surrounding the cities [63]. Possible reasons for the increases in overdose deaths include an overall increase in heroin users and increased Mexican Purity levels in batches of heroin causing abusers to accidentally overdose [63].

Heroin of higher purity can be snorted or smoked which broadens its appeal. Many people who would never consider injecting a drug were introduced to heroin by inhalation [63]. An image of what this looks like before preparation for administration is shown below in Figure 13 [64].

Mexican drug traffickers have previously been in competition with Columbian drug traffickers who provided and distributed high-quality heroin of purity frequently above 90 percent into the U. Mexican heroin is now gaining in purity which has the potential to increase abuse in the U. The effects of heroin abuse put a large strain on healthcare within the U. The CDC are attempting to address the problem with new approaches in treatment shown below however, funding presents a challenge to the effectiveness of these methods along with the unwillingness of the abuser to cooperate or accept help.

Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Figure 14 shows the current CDC approach to reducing heroin abuse. Prevention through improving prescription practices along with assisted treatment and the substitution of other drugs are prioritised by the CDC in order to reduce the prevalence of addiction in society.


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  • Supplementary to this, the CDCalso depict prevention techniques on how to reverse a user who has overdosed. Education is a vital component in reducing abuse and dependency. Resources must be made available at school and colleges where impressionable students can be targeted with an appropriate anti-drugs method. This will not reduce the demand for heroin overnight, however, it exploits the younger generations ability to be influenced potentially reducing demand in the future.

    One of the most beneficial changes which can be made is improved communication between those with knowledge of heroin markets law enforcement and those with knowledge of disease distribution public health. This would have the potential to create a much more realistic goal using a collaborative approach to solving the problem than simply battling the growing heroin demand alone.

    As a result, within 5 years, the popular press and medical authorities in parts of North America began to report the use of oxycodone extended release as a street drug and a growing social problem [60] route. Heroin trafficking is still a common issue for border security at crossings and other sectors along the U. It is apparent that efforts over the years, however drastic, by both the U. There is cause for serious reform to address issues which prevail within society on each side of the border. There is however hope that the problem can be minimized through concerted cooperation between the two countries.

    Reform required is within government bodies and law enforcement agencies in Mexico to remove the bribery and corruption which is rife in these organisations. In order for this to happen a large-scale investigation would be required to identify corrupt government officials and law enforcement officers and remove them from office. This would allow the government to fully investigate the cartels, to establish the extent of their influence and power, and to work towards the elimination of the DTOs.

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    This would be a vast task for Mexico if it worked in isolation. Although Mexico is independent from the U. For example, training programmes for independent corruption investigation squads could be carried out on U. The Mexican government also needs to consider the influence of the low price that farmers are paid for the cultivation of legitimate crops. If farmers received a higher income for the production of such crops, then they would be less influenced by the financial attraction of producing illicit crops to supply the DTOs.

    One approach could be to encourage more legitimate trade between the countries and improve the demand for crops such as maize in the U.


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    • It will not reduce the demand for illicit substances but may increase profit margins for Mexicans who are cultivating products for legal trade thereby switching production away from illegal crops to legitimate crops potentially reducing levels of production. In addition to increased collaboration between the two countries to reduce the supply of heroin crossing the border, the U. The high demand has been highlighted as a grave problem within the country and has put severe pressure on health services and law enforcement agencies. Policies have been established in order to help abusers address their addiction but further work in the area is required.

      It is unlikely that the demand will be removed completely due to the vast population within the U. However, reducing the overall demand will reduce the amount of Mexican heroin trafficked across the border and the power of the cartels. Steps have been made to address certain issues, such as improvements within the U. Education of the young and impressionable will play a vital role in this war on drugs. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and build upon your work non-commercially.

      Withdrawal Policies Publication Ethics. Review Article Volume 3 Issue 2. Go to Heroin: A path to destruction The opium poppy is botanically classified as Papaver somniferum. Figure 2: Advertisement of Bayer Pharmaceutical Products [15]. Examines the ideological underpinnings of the Novel of the Revolution , providing extensive analysis and synopsis of dozens of novels.

      No English translation of this work exists. Franco, Jean. An Introduction to Spanish-American Literature. New York: Cambridge University Press, This work offers a general introduction to Latin American literature. It covers a broad range of periods from Independence to the early 21st century. Fuentes, Carlos. La nueva novela hispanoamericana. An important essay by a founding member of the Latin American Boom, Fuentes recognizes the importance of the genre in modernizing Latin American literature.

      Edited by Daniel Cosillo Villegas, — The foremost authority of Mexican popular culture provides an extensive and detailed panorama of the distinct literary, cinematic, and theatrical movements of the Mexican 20th century. This general overview provides an excellent discussion regarding the significance of the Novel of the Revolution. Morton, F. Mexico City: Cultura, This early study is divided into four sections covering the major novels and the distinct generations that contributed to Novels of the Revolution. Morton provides an extensive concluding essay evaluating the significance of the genre in the history of the Mexican novel.

      Rutherford, John. An important essay that offers a precise definition of the genre. Rutherford concludes that the importance of the genre comes from its contribution to the discovery of mexicanidad. Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content on this page. Please subscribe or login.

      Oxford Bibliographies Online is available by subscription and perpetual access to institutions. For more information or to contact an Oxford Sales Representative click here. Not a member? Sign up for My OBO. Already a member? Publications Pages Publications Pages. Subscriber sign in. Forgot password? Don't have an account? Sign in via your Institution. Sign in with your library card. Related Articles about About Related Articles close popup.

      Introduction The term Novel of the Revolution refers to a group of narrative works inspired by and based on the events of the Mexican Revolution of General Overviews The Novel of the Revolution is of considerable importance to Mexican cultural and literary history and more generally to the development of modern Latin American literature.

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