Mexico Meltdown: First Update of 2008
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Mexico continues its descent toward becoming a failed state. The latest victim is the integrity of the electoral process as the narco-cartels remind candidates of the syndicates' growing power.
MEXICO CITY, Jan. 4 — Drug cartels are trying to influence the outcomes of major elections in Mexico by kidnapping and threatening candidates, according to Mexican Attorney General Eduardo Medina Mora.

The remarks by Medina Mora, released by his office Friday, underscored the Mexican government's growing willingness in recent months to acknowledge the threat drug cartels pose to the nation's fragile democracy. The problem is most severe, Medina Mora said, in the border states of Baja California and Tamaulipas, and in Michoacan, the home state of Mexican President Felipe Calderon.

"We have evidence, complaints from candidates who were kidnapped or intimidated, or who received threats intended to influence the results of an election and the behavior of candidates," Medina Mora told the Spanish newspaper El Pais, according to a transcript of the interview. [Mexican Drug Cartels Threaten Elections, Washington Post, Jan 4, 2008]

The latest uptick in cartel crimes indicates that Presidente Calderon's campaign against the drug lords is not going well. The escalation shows one reason why he put the squeeze on Bush for $1.4 billion in military aid, which will be stolen or squandered if history is any indicator.

Keep in mind that at the same time as Washington is moving forward to deliver over a billion taxpayer dollars to ultra-corrupt Mexico, it recently pulled the plug on funding for the border fence.

Furthermore, Mexico is losing a lot of money because American travelers are choosing to forego beautiful tropical sunsets to avoid worsening danger: Mexican violence driving away U.S. tourists (Houston Chronicle, Jan 5, 2008).

PLAYAS DE ROSARITO, Mexico – Assaults on American tourists have brought hard times to hotels and restaurants that dot Mexican beaches just south of the border from San Diego.

Surfers and kayakers are frightened to hit the waters of the northern stretch of Mexico's Baja California peninsula, long popular as a weekend destination for U.S. tourists. Weddings have been canceled. Lobster joints a few steps from the Pacific were almost empty on the usually busy New Year's weekend.

Americans have long tolerated shakedowns by police who boost salaries by pulling over motorists for alleged traffic violations, and tourists know parts of Baja are a hotbed of drug-related violence. But a handful of attacks since summer by masked, armed bandits – some of whom used flashing lights to appear like police – marks a new extreme that has spooked even longtime visitors.

Lori Hoffman, a San Diego-area emergency room nurse, said she was sexually assaulted Oct. 23 by two masked men in front of her boyfriend, San Diego Surfing Academy owner Pat Weber, who was forced to kneel at gunpoint for 45 minutes. They were at a campground with about 30 tents, some 200 miles south of the border.

The men shot out windows of the couple's trailer and forced their way inside, ransacked the cupboards and left with about $7,000 worth of gear, including computers, video equipment and a guitar.

With Mexico as a neighbor, we need a fence and the military on the border to keep out the worsening crime and narco-violence.
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