230,000 displaced in Mexico by drug warby Hugh Holub on Mar. 30, 2011, under border issues, drug smuggling, mexican drug cartels, mexico, politics
And according to the story from Weekly News Update on the Americas, half of the people that were displaced fled to the United States….
Weekly News Update on the Americas
Issue #1073, March 27, 2011
Some 115,000 Mexicans fled their homes last year because of drug-related crime, according to a report released on Mar. 23 by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC). The Geneva-based group, which was established by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in 1998 at the United Nations’ request, estimated that the total number of people displaced by drug violence in Mexico since 2007 has reached about 230,000. Some 35,000 people have died in fighting among drug gangs and between the gangs and the authorities in the four years since President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa militarized the fight against drug traffickers shortly after taking office in December 2006.
The refugees are largely from the northern states of Chihuahua and Tamaulipas, but the violence has also affected residents of Nuevo León, Baja California Norte, Sinaloa and Michoacán. Ciudad Juárez and Valle de Juárez, in Chihuahua near the US border, are the areas that have been hit hardest. According to statistics from local authorities, up to 116,000 houses have been left vacant there, 11,000 businesses have closed and 11,000 students have dropped out of school. Of the 230,000 displaced, about half have moved to the US; the rest are mostly living in Chihuahua, Durango, Coahuila and Veracruz.
As the toll mounted in Mexico, anger continued over Operation Fast and Furious, a US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) program that allowed some 2,000 firearms to enter Mexico illegally in what appeared to be a bungled effort to trace the activities of US gun smugglers in the US Southwest. Many of the weapons presumably ended up being used by Mexican drug traffickers [see Update #1070]. In a Mar. 22 interview with the Spanish-language Univision television network, US president Barack Obama told correspondent Jorge Ramos: “Well, first of all, I did not authorize it. Eric Holder the attorney general did not authorize it. He’s been very clear that our policy is to catch gun runners and put them into jail.” Ramos asked Obama if he had been informed. “Absolutely not,” the president answered. “There may be a situation here which a serious mistake was made, and if that’s the case, then we’ll find out and we’ll hold somebody accountable.”
But a number of top US officials certainly knew about Fast and Furious. Darren Gil, the lead ATF official in Mexico at the time of the operation, said to CBS News on Mar. 25 that his supervisor told him that ATF director Kenneth Melson was aware of the program and that knowledge of the program wasn’t limited to the Treasury Department, which operates the ATF. “Not only is the [ATF] director aware of it, DOJ’s aware of it,” the supervisor said, referring to the US Department of Justice.
Gil, who retired from the ATF in December, said he was instructed not to tell his Mexican counterparts about Fast and Furious. Gil says he warned his supervisor: “When is this case going to shut down? The Mexicans are going to have a fit when they find out about it.” (CBS News 3/25/11; LJ 3/26/11)