The Mexican Trickle-Down Effect

Ted Galen Carpenter 

Guatemala’s government has just declared a “state of siege” to deal with the growing power of Mexican-based drug cartels in its territory. Indeed, officials argue that one northern province has been “overrun” by the traffickers.

It is yet another indicator that the aggressive drug war that Washington and Mexico City have embraced is having perverse effects. The developments in Guatemala, along with the rising death toll in Mexico itself (now topping thirty thousand since President Felipe Calderón declared war on the drug cartels in December 2006), overwhelm the much-touted successes, such as the recent killing of Nazario Moreno González, the charismatic leader of the violent La Familia gang.

There is already evidence that Mexico’s drug-related corruption and violence is seeping northward into the United States. But that plague is spreading even more rapidly into Mexico’s small Central American neighbors.

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