While we continue to assure travelers that the majority of Mexico is extremely safe for travelers (which travelers from outside the US seem to understand very well), we do always acknowledge that specific areas of Mexico (mostly located along the US/Mexico border) do have a problem with violence and should be avoided. To the surprise of many, however, a growing number of people are interested in visiting and even moving to these troubled areas – industrial business owners from the US.
As Mexico’s economy continues to grow at a steady pace, more and more industrial businesses are looking to open or expand along the US/Mexico border, which (in conjunction with other growing economic trends) should serve as a pretty large incentive for the US to accept more responsibility for the violence in the area and to help take care of the problem.
For many readers in the US, that last sentence may seem a bit offensive, but it’s no secret that a significant number of the guns used by drug gangs come from the US. To be fair, President Obama has taken responsibility for a portion of the problem, yet many would argue that effective changes in policy have been slow to take place. As the Mexican economy continues to grow, it’s difficult to understand why the US would not be more interested in doing all they can to aid in the speedy resolution to the border violence.
According to the New York Times, the Mexican economy “grew 5.5 percent last year, its fastest pace in a decade, and is expected to grow 4.5 percent this year… The American economy, by contrast, is expected to grow between 2.7 percent and 2.9 percent in 2011.” The Times also added that “Mexico’s manufacturing sector increased 8.2 percent to 1.8 million as of January, the most recent figures available, driven mostly by what Mexican officials called regaining health in the auto and electronics industries, the engine of the economy along the border.” And it’s not just a thriving industrial sector within Mexico that should entice Americans to do more in stopping the violence as a strong Mexican economy directly boots the US economy, much more so than many realize.
Did you know that 22 states in the US report Mexico to be their number one or number two market for exports? In addition, Mexico is within the top five export-markets for many other US states. Theoretically, if the US would make stemming the sales of guns to Mexico (as well as dealing with it’s insatiable demand for drugs) more of a priority, violence in Mexico would drop and the Mexican government would have an easier time dealing with the cartels. Less violence would lead to less negative reporting in the US media, which would lead to more US tourism to Mexico. More tourism would cause Mexico’s economy to increase even faster, and Mexico’s rapidly growing middle class would have more money to spend on US exports. It’s a win, win (at least in theory), right?
So why isn’t it happening? Doesn’t everyone, on a humanitarian level, want to see the violence in Mexico ended? Doesn’t the US economy want to make more in exportation? Don’t US travelers want to save money by vacationing in neighboring Mexico instead of in destinations much further away?
There are only two explanations I can come up with: One, the sale of guns to Mexico accounts for more money than would be produced by the above scenario via exportation or, Two, the money from the sale of guns goes to a specific group of people capable of influencing policy. Which seems more plausible to you?
*Update – Shortly after I published this post, I came across this article published today on the Los Angeles Times website, which concludes with: “…it appears that the United States has been effectively — or inadvertently — sending weapons to Mexico’s government to fight cartels while also sending weapons to cartels that are fighting the government.”