Mexico drug war deaths on par with Vietnam

| Nov. 12, 2010 |

Mexico City, Mexico—The number of deaths in Mexico's drug war is on par with US deaths in Vietnam, according to Senate Chairman Manlio Fabio Beltrones.

Over 30,000 people have died in Mexico since President Felipe Calderón took office in 2006, and the violence has no signs of abating, with an entire city having being evacuated in northeastern Mexico this week after a turf war broke out between rival drug cartels.

“We have seen 30,000 people die in the past four years and we are very close to seeing, at the end of this six year term, an equal number of dead as in the Vietnam War,” Beltrones told CNN. “Who really thinks that with the next 30,000 we will solve the problems of crime and violence?”

The US military saw 58,000 deaths between 1955 and 1975 in Vietnam.

The senator said that Mexico’s drug laws must be co-ordinated with those of the United States. On the possibility of the legalisation of drugs, Beltrones said: “The debate will have to give sooner or later. Crime and drug trafficking, which are international problems, need international solutions.”

California recently rejected Proposition 19 which would have legalised marijuana use. Those for the legalisation claim that it is the prohibition of drugs that has led to the prevalence of drug cartels.

This week saw the evacuation of more than 300 people from Ciudad Mier after the death of Gulf cartel leader Antonio Ezequiel Cardenas-Guillen, nicknamed Tony Temprano, by Mexican Marines last week.

A violent turf war has broken out between the Gulf cartel and their former allies Los Zetas, a gang of Special Forces deserters.

Gun battles between the rival cartels have been non-stop in Mier since the killing, with residents having been warned—some by telephone—to leave otherwise they would be killed. Not even city leaders, including the mayor, stayed. A convoy of more than 20 Mexican Army vehicles have arrived in an attempt to bring order to the city.

The last month alone has seen massacres in Ciudad Juarez on the US border, Mexico City and the western state of Nayarit.