Militarizing the US/Mexico Border Is Not the Solution to the Drug Battles Taking Place There

Operation Jump Start training in Phoenix, Ariz., Feb. 21, 2007, teaches U.S. Customs and Border Patrol procedures while observing the Arizona-Mexico border for illegal activity. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Trisha Harris)

We shouldn’t militarize the U.S.-Mexico border
By Yolanda Chávez Leyva / March 23, 2009

We should not send troops to the U.S.-Mexico border, despite the drug-related violence on the Mexican side.

President Obama, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and a variety of other government officials have discussed the possibility of sending the National Guard. Texas Gov. Rick Perry has requested 1,000 troops on his southern border.

To be sure, violence has risen dramatically across the border in the past year and a half. There have been almost 2,000 murders since the beginning of last year in Ciudad Juarez in Mexico, across from my hometown of El Paso in Texas.

I hear stories from friends and acquaintances almost daily of the robberies, kidnappings, carjackings and shootouts.

The local university has undertaken a study of women in Juarez who are experiencing post-traumatic stress syndrome as a result of living in the chaos of ever-increasing violence.

While once a frequent visitor to Juarez, I haven’t crossed the border in months. I grew up on the Texas-Mexico border, but I have never seen this level of violence on the Mexican side.

But do I want troops sent to the border in the name of protecting me?


For more than twenty years, those of us who live on the border have witnessed the increasing militarization of the border. The border wall is a daily reminder of this, as are the helicopters that fly over our neighborhoods, the checkpoints manned by the Border Patrol and local law enforcement, as well as the daily harassment of citizens who happen to have darker skin. We are frequently the target of various “wars” —against undocumented migration, against terrorism and now against drugs. I am tired of living in a war zone.

The model of “war” has not worked, and it will not work.

Too often the war against drugs or terrorism or undocumented immigration turns into violence against innocent civilians.

Too often it turns into human rights abuse.

Too often it becomes a justification for even more violence.

What is the price that those of us living on the U.S. side will be asked to pay because of the possibility that the violence will “spill over” the border?

For a change, look at what is spilling over from the United States into Mexico — illegal arms and ammunition from U.S. dealers, laundered drug money and an increasing demand for drugs.

Instead of further funding a military solution that will not work, let’s fund more drug rehabilitation, enforce existing gun laws, and take responsibility for our part in creating the violence.

I look forward to crossing over the border once again in safety.

But that won’t be possible until we stop militarizing this problem and start addressing it at its roots.

[Yolanda Chávez Leyva is a historian specializing in Mexican-American and border history. She lives in Texas. She can be reached at]

Source / The Progressive

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10 Responses to Militarizing the US/Mexico Border Is Not the Solution to the Drug Battles Taking Place There

  1. Anonymous says:

    I must ask isn’t that what Mexico has already did on their side of the border, militarizing it ? illegal arms and ammunition from U.S. dealers, laundered drug money ok so why isn’t Mexico checking everything entering into their country from this country? Don’t you think the drug cartel gets weapons from around the world in aka the black market based on what they are using suggest more than a causal gun buy and the drug cartel also steals weapons from the Mexico Military how else do they get rocket lanchers? What you are suggesting is really us doing Mexico’s job.

  2. richard jehn says:

    Of course, the self-righteous American perspective is that they are the ones at fault – we are always on the side of right and good. Perhaps you would be interested in discovering that the source of the weapons used in the shootouts in Mexico is overwhelmingly the US (Mexico’s Drug War Bloodbath: Guns from the U.S. Are Destabilizing the Country), and that Mexican authorities have had little success in persuading the Americans to help them curb the flow of gun-power into their nation. But who cares about facts in this discussion, anyway?

  3. Sid says:

    Far less important than where the arms come from is the question of why the violence exists in the first place. Was it important where Al Capone got the guns he used… or was it more important to end the violence by repealing prohibition.

    Just like Capone, the modern day gangsters use violence because their business is outside the law. All conflicts, whether between gangsters or between the gangsters and the law are solved violently for that reason. In other words, its not the whiskey or the drugs that create the violence… it’s the law. The proof is that when the law changed, the violence stopped but the whiskey still flowed.

    When Obama joked about possible legalization of marijuana, he did a huge disservice not only to the cause of reason and justice, but to the chances of actually ending the drug induced violence. With the violence worse now than ever after 40 years and hundreds of billions spend on the ‘war on drugs’, it’s time to try another solution. This one, as any visitor to northern Mexico (among many many other places) can attest, isn’t working.

    The last time a person was killed over a bottle of whiskey was the day prohibition was repealed… and I would hope that you understand that that’s not a coincidence.

  4. Sid says:

    Nice cut and paste; saw it in it’s original place, and it was just silly rant there, too.

  5. Deva says:

    To Sid: Where did you see this in its original form? You have made a serious accusation of plagiarism. Back up the insult, if you can.

  6. Deva says:

    To Sid: Okay, I’m a new reader, I apologize for feeding into more discord. Who is this ‘anonymous’ who claims to be so far so heard and so outspoken, or where is s/he lifting the material from? Part of the perception of ‘rant’ may just be in the dense type and typos. I want peace and a better world too; I am just trying to understand.

  7. A regular reader says:

    Deva — Long-winded Anonymous has come to The Rag Blog a couple of times — it’s too bad s/he is so bloody verbose — I mean I KNOW I am a chatterbox but good grief! I’m not sure anyone has the attention span to get through an entire post from LWA! There seem to be some interesting ideas in there, wherever they come from, but it’s also quite weird, imho, to post these humongous all-covering comments anonymously to stories that have begun to attract some interesting discussion on their own. If LWA, or anyone else, has original material to post, or articles to recommend to The Rag Blog, they can be e-mailed to the TRB editors and possibly show up as an article on the blog, rather than an unconnected comment to an existing piece. I would hope that if LWA actually has something to say, s/he would contact the editors rather than continue to post overly long rants that tend to cut off existing threads.

  8. All I can say is “WOW” – that was one long ‘comment’, and I’ve seen it not only here, but on other blogs and web-sites. I’m guessing this person is just visiting a variety of sites, and doing a copy/paste as he/she ‘vents’……

    I’ll check that link out that Sid left.

  9. Good heavens, the longest comment in history. Our anonymous friend runs the risk of not being listened to with his cut and paste comments. Many of the firearms Mexico has received from the US have been for the intent of fighting wars in their land. The statistics Hilary Clinton cited last week that 90% of the firearms in Mexico come from the US were incorrect.

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