Civilians Falling Victim to Mexico Drug War

A Devastating Wave of Attacks Has Killed Dozens of Civilians

Published: October 28, 2010

Mexico Day of the Dead

People hang a banner that reads "NO MORE DEATH" outside the federal attorney general office in commemoration of Day of the Dead in Mexico City, Monday, Nov. 1, 2010. Activists protested President Calderon's drug war strategy by erecting a Day of the Dead altar in honor of recently killed youth. (AP Photo/Alexandre Meneghini)

MEXICO CITY — During its nearly four-year crackdown on major drug trafficking organizations, the Mexican government has repeated the mantra that most of the nearly 30,000 people killed have some association with the illicit trade. But in the span of a week, a devastating wave of attacks has killed dozens of civilians, rattled a public not easily shocked anymore and forced the government to concede that innocents are being swept up in the violence.

In the latest attacks, gunmen killed four people early Thursday and injured 14 when they fired on three buses carrying workers home from a late shift at a manufacturing plant near Ciudad Juárez. The authorities said the assault — on workers from one of the large so-called maquiladoras, or factories, on and near the border that have fueled an economic and population boom there — had no precedent.

The buses bore the name of the company where the employees worked, Eagle Ottawa, an automobile upholstery manufacturer based in Auburn Hills, Mich., that has two plants in Ciudad Juárez. Bus operators transporting workers have faced extortion demands recently, but it was not clear if the police were looking into that as a motive. Officials at Eagle Ottawa did not respond to requests for comment. Determining patterns in the drug war is difficult. At least seven major trafficking organizations, and their various splinter groups as they break apart and re-form, are vying for territory and supremacy.

The recent loss of innocent lives has heightened the anxiety in the country and seemed to buttress statements by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton that the cartel violence was taking on shades of terrorism and teetering toward the strife of Colombia in the 1990s. Her remarks initially ruffled diplomatic feathers, and government officials fired back with a barrage of figures they contended showed how much worse Colombia was then in terms of violence and political infiltration.

The administration of President Felipe Calderón has not shown signs of shifting tactics. Rather, his aides believe the problem is that his message — that the violence is a sign that progress is being made — has not been delivered well. There has been a shake-up in his communication staff to improve it.

Read the full story in The New York Times >>

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Posted by on Nov 2 2010. Filed under National Security, Top Stories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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