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The Civilian Toll

By Anasuya Dindral

The drug cartels in Mexico penetrate the lives of civilians who happen to live in the areas that are corrupted with the drug market. Streets that were once filled with running kids now are an empty endless road where parents are afraid to let their kids go to school, let alone allow them to play outside. These civilians that are in no way involved with the business of the drug cartels are stuck in the middle of this bundle. They can’t leave their homes for a fear of their lives. Civilians are dying left and right. It seems that both sides, the good and the bad, have a hand on the civilian toll. The individuals running the drug cartels brutally murder those who cannot hold up their end of the bargain regardless of how little it is. The soldiers are going by the beat of their own drums. They seem to have been involved in a fair amount of death among civilians. Either way, the civilians are stuck in the middle of an increasing battle taking place between civil justice and the drug cartels.

Ciudad Juarez is known as the border town city. It has a population of close to 1.7 billion (Baxter, 2009). This city is known for its relationship to violence stemming from drug related issues. In 2008 there were about 1600 drug related murders in just this one city (Baxter, 2009). The problem does not stop there; it’s an ongoing process in each of the cities. The drug cartels seem to be heavier along the cities/towns that are bordered with the United States (Baxter, 2009). In Mexico the overall death toll went up 117% from 2007 to 2008. In 2007, 2477 people associated with the drug cartel were murdered and in 2008 more than 5300 people were murdered who were involved in the same business (Baxter, 2009). The Mexican population has grown accustomed to the mass killings that are surrounding them as ways of life. These drug gangs scare and intimidate people by showing the brutal ways in which they can murder someone. They make the rules that everyone must abide by and if the rules are broken then your life and the lives of family members will be put in danger.

The soldiers that are assigned to help out the civilian population have their own set of problems. They hurt the population just as much as they might help it. There have been a growing number of cases in which soldiers have mistakenly killed civilian who are not involved with the drug cartels (Grillo, 2008). In one such case the soldiers saw a speeding hummer and somehow assumed that it was involved with the cartels. They began to fire and in the process killed four young men and their own troops in the crossfire (Grillo, 2008). Maldonado, a civilian who lives in the area these shootings took place says, “These soldiers are idiot. What protection do they give us? They should get out of our communities and back to their barracks” (Grillo, 2008). Since the release of 25,000 troops in 2006 that were supposed to take on the mafias there have been deaths of at least 13 unarmed civilians (Grillo, 2008). Another disturbing report against the armed forces states that soldiers took four teenage girls into questioning in Michoacan state and repeatedly beat and raped them for three days. When these girls were released they were told not to go to the authorities otherwise their lives would be in danger (Grillo, 2008). Obviously the armed forces that are there to protect the civilian population from the abuse of the drug gangs, are inflicting damage on the civilians as well. The Mexican Defense Department has arrested 24 soldiers regarding the civilian shooting and they have also stated that “the military will not tolerate any actions that hurt the civil population and will abide strictly by the law and respect for human rights” (Grillo, 2008). Some want these soldiers to be tried by civilian courts because they feel that it would be a joke to let the military magistrates make decisions for its own corrupted workers (Grillo, 2008).

In the end, the death of a civilian, regardless of whether they were killed by the soldiers or the drug lords, takes a toll on the economy. Families are being shattered because of this battle between the two sides. Who should be held responsible can be argued from both perspectives. The idea would be to try and get this drug market out into the open rather than keep it a hushed issue.

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