Monterrey, Mexico. Aug 25. 3:45 p.m. Six gunmen enter Casino Royale, set the building on fire and leave 52 civilians dead.
Later that day, Mexican president Felipe Calderon and the federal government’s spokesman for security affairs, Alejandro Poire, condemn the attack and label it an act of terror.
This has been the most violent crime committed since Calderon took office and declared war on the drug cartels in 2006. His message was brave, energetic and idealist; it was a call to unity, a call for society and government to come together and destroy the minority of murderers and crooks who are holding the country in checkmate.
Maybe, after all, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.
The thesis is quite simple: Mexican society and government cannot win the war while consumers in the United States continue to finance the drug cartels.
California’s Proposition 19, which attempted to legalize marijuana in the state, sent a message to Mexicans that American society and politicians couldn’t care less about Mexico’s problematic drug cartels.
Prop 19 was a clear demonstration of American insensitivity considering California’s extensive Mexican population and heritage.
The amount of student support for Prop 19 also made it clear many students do not understand the crippling effect the legalization of marijuana would have had on Mexico.
Likewise, it was a perplexing move, considering California was among the first states in the nation to act against Arizona’s racist immigration policies by imposing economic sanctions by boycotting local Arizona products. One action seems to cancel the other out.
In short, Americans seem to be having a hard time linking drug consumption to death and political instability across the southern border.
Mexico’s organized crime is losing power. Drug cartels are seeing their trade routes shut down by increasingly tight border security.
The burning of a casino and the massacre of civilians are acts of desperation; when business is running smoothly, there is no need for violence. The Mexican government has had success cracking down on the cartels and their drug trade, but it has not been able to protect Mexican citizens from becoming collateral damage in the hands of these criminals.
Furthermore, the government has not implemented a solid strategy to combat what fuels the cartels — consumer dollars. Organized crime originates through the forces of supply and demand. U.S. drug consumption shows no signs of decline, but if there is a will, there is a way.
Both the Bush and Obama administrations have pledged billions of dollars in aid but have failed at reducing consumption.
Though the federal level has taken action in an attempt to end the war, state governments are simultaneously attempting to legalize. The United States needs to unilaterally decide which course of action to take.
Calderon’s recognition of the burning of the casino as a terrorist act could allow both the U.S. and Mexican authorities to find common ground.
Mexico’s war on drug trafficking is similar to America’s war on terror: a war with no end in sight, but must be fought because of the ideals at stake. This is the perfect opportunity for good neighbors, like Mexico and California, to come together and practice what they preach.
If history has taught us anything it is that we can’t rely on state or federal governments to be consistent.
We need to look to universities for this consistency, and it is the youth in these institutions who can make an actual difference.
We are USC students, and many of us wrote something in our application essay about changing the world and helping those in need. This is a time when we can actually use that starry-eyed optimism and turn it into something meaningful.
USC does not have to be a “party school” or the “University of Spoiled Children.” We are California residents, whether for four years or a lifetime.
This means our home has strong and historic economic, cultural, political and social ties to Mexico. Reflect on this the next time a joint is rolled at a party you’re at.
Take a moment to think what might be behind those crushed green leaves: all the death, all the corruption, all because of one little joint.
Do not lazily blame prohibition or government policies. Though they are incongrous, complaining about them will not get the country very far.
Instead think of what you can do. Are you being congruent? We allow the laws of supply and demand to operate. We are a key player in ending the drug war.
On the other hand, why help out your southern neighbor? It is so much cooler these days to help Africa. Keep this in mind: If your neighbor’s house catches fire, your house will eventually burn down too.
Rafael Fernandez De Castro Samano is a sophomore majoring in communication.