New reports about Mexico, the failing state on our border

This provides a very brief look at two excellent reports about Mexico.  Excerpts from each appear below.

  1. Mexico Security Memo – Year-end Wrap-up“, Stratfor, 5 January 2008 — Subscription only.
  2. After Action Report – Vistit Mexico“, General Barry R McCaffrey USA (Ret), 29 December 2008

Both are disturbing, since the global economic downturn will weigh heavily on Mexico.  Fortunately, Mexico pre-sold most of its 2009 oil production at high 2008 prices.  If low oil prices continue into 2010, the double hit from low prices and declining production will severely hurt Mexico.

(1)  Stratfor

Mexico Security Memo – Year-end Wrap-up“, Stratfor, 5 January 2008 — Subscription only.  Stratfor is IMO the best intel source for generalists, as their coverage of Mexico demonstrates.  Excerpt:

The year 2008 ended up being a record year in Mexico’s fight against drug cartels. Unfortunately for the government, most of these records are related to the country’s deteriorating security situation, not to government gains against criminal organizations. Most notably, 2008 set a new record for organized crime-related homicides with some 5,700 killings, more than double the previous record of 2,700 reached in 2007. The fact that 2008 deaths alone account for nearly half the total number killed over the last four years is a testament to just how much violence in Mexico has increased over the past 12 months.

Shifting geographic patterns of violence over the past year also highlight some of the Mexican government’s challenges. In 2007, for example, much of the violence occurred in the states of Michoacan, Guerrero and Sinaloa, southwestern states with sparse populations, vast rural areas and mountains that proved ideal territory to store and traffic drug shipments received in coastal ports. During 2008, however, much of the violence shifted to the north: Some 48% of all killings during the last 12 months took place in Chihuahua and Baja California states. In addition, much of this northern violence was concentrated in large urban cities like Ciudad Juarez and Tijuana, which present uniquely different operating environments for the Mexican military.

… The prospect of these trends continuing into 2009 does not bode well for the Mexican government.

(2)  General McCaffrey

After Action Report – Vistit Mexico“, General Barry R McCaffrey USA (Ret), 29 December 2008 — His reconnaissance is excellent; his analysis and recommendation IMO far less so.  Almost blind faith in force and money; but little understanding of the dynamics of failing states.  This is just a brief excerpt; I recommend reading it in full.


3. D. The incoming Obama Administration must immediately focus on the dangerous and worsening problems in Mexico, which fundamentally threaten US national security.

Before the next eight years are past – the violent, warring collection of criminal drug cartels could overwhelm the institutions of the state and establish de facto control over broad regions of northern Mexico. A failure by the Mexican political system to curtail lawlessness and violence could result of a surge of millions of refugees crossing the US border to escape the domestic misery of violence, failed economic policy, poverty, hunger, joblessness, and the mindless cruelty and injustice of a criminal state.

3. E. Mexico is not confronting dangerous criminality — it is fighting for survival against narco-terrorism.

5. A. Mexico is on the edge of the abyss—it could become a narco-state in the coming decade. Chronic drug consumption has doubled since 2002 to 500,000 addicts. Possibly 5% or 3.5 million people consume illegal drugs. (the US figure is 8.3% or 20.4 million). Since 2002— past month Mexican national drug consumption has increased by 30% and cocaine use has doubled. The fastest growing addiction rates are among the 12 to 17 year old population — and the consumption rates among women have doubled.

6. A. The crime rate is staggering. The US State Department notes that crime in Mexico continues at high levels particularly in Mexico City. Criminal assaults occur on highways throughout Mexico. Armed street crime is a serious problem in all the major cities. Robbery and assault on passengers in taxis are frequent and violent. Mexican authorities have failed to prosecute numerous crimes committed against US citizens, including murder and kidnapping. 44% of all murders through November of this year were of unidentified victims— primarily because of fear of becoming involved by family and acquaintances of the deceased.

6. C. Corruption is pervasive and ruins the trust among Mexican law enforcement institutions at local, state, and Federal level. Corruption reaches into the US Embassy with a DEA Mexican national employee recently arrested for being an agent of the Sinaloa Cartel. He was corrupted by a $450,000.00 bribe. Six high-ranking law enforcement officials have recently been arrested and the current and former Director of the Interpol Office in Mexico indicted. (This is a painful personal reminder of the 1997 arrest of the Mexican Drug Czar, General Gutierrez Rebollo, discovered to be working as an agent of the Juarez cartel.)

6. E. The Council on Hemispheric Affairs states that: “Due to pervasive corruption at the highest levels of the Mexican Government, and the almost effortless infiltration of the porous security forces by the cartel, an ultimate victory by the state is uncertain.”

9. B. Now is the time during the opening months of a new US Administration to jointly commit to a fully resourced major partnership as political equals of the Mexican government. We must jointly and respectfully cooperate to address the broad challenges our two nations face.

Specifically, we must support the Government of Mexico’s efforts to confront the ultra violent drug cartels. We must do so in ways that are acceptable to the Mexican polity and that take into account Mexican sensitivities to sovereignty. The United States Government cannot impose a solution. The political will is present in Mexico to make the tough decisions that are required to confront a severe menace to the rule of law and the authority of the Mexican state. Where our assistance can be helpful, we must provide it. The challenge is so complex that it will require sustained commitment and attention at the highest levels of our two governments. We cannot afford to fail.


If you are new to this site, please glance at the archives below. You may find answers to your questions in these.

Please share your comments by posting below. Per the FM site’s Comment Policy, please make them brief (250 words max), civil, and relevant to this post. Or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).

Other reports about Mexico

  1. Mexico: On the Road to a Failed State?“, George Friedman, Stratfor, 13 May 2008
  2. Mexico: Examining Cartel War Violence Through a Protective Intelligence Lens“, Stratfor, 14 May 2008
  3. Crime and Punishment in Mexico: The big picture beyond drug cartel violence“, posted at Grits for Breakfast, 18 May 2008

For more information from the FM site

To read other articles about these things, see the FM reference page on the right side menu bar. Of esp relevance to this topic:

Posts about Mexcio:

  1. Is Mexico unraveling?, 28 April 2008 — summary of Stratfor’s warnings about Mexico.
  2. “High Stakes South of the Border”, 13 May 2008
  3. Stratfor: the Mexican cartels stike at Phoenix, AZ, 6 July 2008
  4. “Drug cartels ‘threaten’ Mexican democracy”, 24 July 2008
  5. Stratfor reports on Mexico, news ignored by our mainstream media, 19 August 2008
  6. Nonsense from StrategyPage: Iraq is safer than Mexico, 17 December 2008
Originally published at Fabius Maximus and reproduced here with the author’s permission.

4 Responses to "New reports about Mexico, the failing state on our border"

  1. Anonymous   January 16, 2009 at 9:48 am

    Either you believe the reports or you don’t. If you do the Mexican government and people are powerless to prevent the descent into criminal anarchy…and a race war is the only solution which will prevent it from spreading into our country at an ever increasing rate.

  2. Anonymous   January 16, 2009 at 2:32 pm

    > We are US citizens that finally decided to leave Mexico after living there for the past> four years. We agree with your analysis however it is hard to see and believe when you are> living there. People in the US and in Mexico are in denial however virtually everyone I know> in Mexico has been victimized in one way or another. My great hope is that President-elect Obama> will strongly focus on the problems. Also, since he is so popular with the youth, simple as> this may seem, I wish he would blitz the US media with strong public service announcements high-> lighting exactly what and who the youth of America are supporting everytime they buy illegal drugs.> A seemingly innocent baggie of marijuana seems quite different when you see a photograph of 12> beheaded men showing signs of having been sadistically tortured. These sadistic criminals saddly> enough are being supported by that little baggie of marijuana. It is horrible. Short of this> the US should move to legalize and control the distribution of these drugs. At least the money> and the economic strength it generates will remain in our country and will not contribute to the> eventual overthrow of the Mexican government. Please write more about this subject. The US> cannot afford to neglect Mexico and run the risk of it being controled by a group of immoral> and sadistic thugs. We should do all that we can to stabilize the situation just as you say,> in ways that are acceptable to the government and mindful of its sovereignty.

  3. Guest   January 19, 2009 at 8:46 am

    America is facing a serious problem, one that will make our struggle with Al Qaeda seem tiny. We are going to be hammered on two fronts:1) An influx of illegal aliens seeking refuge from Mexico’s crime (drug) problem.2) America’s need to quickly fill construction jobs (see “stimulus” spending), which will send illegals (again) pouring over our borders.If you think we have seen overcrowded prisons, jails, schools and hospitals, just wait. It’s about to get worse. And if you think this violent crime won’t be imported into the U.S., think again. Social spending will skyrocket. Pelosi and Schumer never met an illegal alien they didn’t like or didn’t want to fund.Of course, a significant portion of the money earned by these illegals will be sent back to Mexico via Western Union.The social ills created by this madness will remain.

  4. Anonymous   January 21, 2009 at 11:00 am

    If us, Americans didn´t mind doing the hard work this so-called alliens do, that would change things right there.Also, the drug problem seem to be happening at the border with our country, so…who is buying this drugs?…us, so lets educate our kids and quit blaming other people for our lack of responsability. If there´s no drug consuption, there is not drug dealing, just do the math…