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Organized Crime Rules Streets of Mexico

Vanessa Guerrero

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Mayan pyramids stand tall in Yucatan, and colonial history fills every corner of major Mexican cities. While revolutionary ideals of change and prosperity fill the pages of the country's history books, headlines in Mexico's newspapers tell a story of a chaotic social and rapidly deteriorating nation.

Top headlines include stories on drug trafficking, murders and corrupt politicians.

War has broken out in Mexico amongst drug lords and the population. People disappear daily, often showing up dead in the gutter the next day.

For some crossing the border into the United States is the solution to escape poverty, for others joining organized crime syndicates to make money and gain power seems like the best alternative.

Tourists visiting Mexico may not notice the gravity of the situation. They often are too busy staying in the tourist areas.

Just how serious has drug trafficking and organized crime become in Mexico?

Marcos B. Sanchez, educational director of the Migrant, Indian and International Education Office at the California Department of Education, believes Mexico is turning into a second Colombia.

"The Colombian cartels have established partnerships with Mexican cartels, and have transferred some of their shipments to the mountains states of Michoacan, Zacatecas, Jalisco and Guerrero," Sanchez said.

These business deals are worth millions of dollars, if not billions, and the Mexican government has yet to discover the puppet masters behind all the chaos.

With a new political party, the National Action Party, in power, investigating and prosecuting those involved in organized crime has been at the top of the government's to-do list.

When he took office, former President Vicente Fox began a search and seizure process to root out the drug lords.

In past interviews, Fox stated that the government had successfully removed corrupt politicians and officials from power and prosecuted them according to the law.

Headlines suggest that the policy may not be working. And this isn't a new issue in Mexico. Mexico has been plagued for years by crime and corruption.

The infamous Institutional Revolutionary Party controlled the Mexican government for over 70 years and instead of addressing the issue, it seemed they simply set it aside for future governments to deal with.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, investigations revealed that some members in the Institutional Revolutionary Party were involved in electoral fraud and embezzling government funds with the help of the president himself, Salinas de Gortari.

Drug trafficking and corruption are not the only problems. Kidnappings have become rampant during the past decade in the nation's capital, Mexico City.

"Due to the lack of jobs, their economic crisis, the country has experienced an increase in kidnappings for ransom," Sanchez said.

The kidnappings have included famous actors from the major television station, Televisa, and family members of distinguished, wealthy political figures.

Mexico is far from solving its organized crime problem, especially since the majority of Mexican citizens have realized that migrating to the U.S. and other countries brings a better life. But fleeing the country is not the answer.

The solution lies inside the country. But current President Felipe Calderon does not seem like the ideal man to fight for change. He pales in comparison to past heroes of the revolution like Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata.

Sadly, civil war seems like the only solution in order for Mexico to see positive change in the next century.

Vanessa Guerrero can be reached at