The Corner

Narco-Democracy?

The most important country in the world to the United States is also having elections this year:

Mexico’s 2012 vote is vulnerable to narco threat

MEXICO CITY — With Mexico’s presidential vote and other key elections less than six months away, both the government and its watchdogs fear that the black hand of organized crime will manipulate the process to install puppet candidates as servants of the drug cartels.

According to Mexican prosecutors, little has been done to keep the narcos and their drug money out of the July 1 election, and U.S. officials worry that tainted campaigns could bring new leaders to city halls and federal offices who might undermine the ongoing war against Mexico’s powerful crime gangs.

Political analysts say that the drug lords could corrupt the presidential race even without having to meddle directly in those campaigns and that their attempts to boost local candidates or suppress votes could contaminate the process at every level. …

“They say: ‘Why would I want to pay off the authorities if I can own them from the start?’ ” he said.

I wish there were an easy solution for this, but there isn’t. I’m in favor of legalizing pot, but it would make only a modest dent in the cartels’ income and influence. And we’re just not going to legalize harder drugs.

I’m optimistic about Mexico in the long run; a new book (which I haven’t read) has a title that seems to sum up the situation: Mexico: A Middle Class Society, Poor No More, Developed Not Yet. But between now and the long run, the country will be passing through a world of hurt. There are probably ways we can help, but our government’s chief responsibility has to be to limit the fallout we experience from Mexico’s convulsions.

Better get that fence built.

Mark Krikorian — Mark Krikorian, a nationally recognized expert on immigration issues, has served as Executive Director of the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) since 1995.

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