In 1994, Mexico suddenly announced that its currency would not longer be fixed against the US dollar, thus triggering what would later be know as the "tequila crisis".
Today, Mexico is once again facing a major crisis, yet again caused by the country's alignment with a different type of American currency, known as the war on drugs. After decades of failed attempts to prohibit American citizens to consume substances they obviously like a lot, American governments have increasingly resorted to blame foreign countries for the failure of prohibition. Vincente Fox surrendered to US pressures, culminating in the launch of "Operation Safe Mexico" (not point for originality here!).
Beginning June 11, the Mexican government began a series of raids in a number of provinces, aiming at gangs linked to the drug trade between the United States and Mexico. To the surprise of Mr. Fox, Mexican drug entrepreneurs did not take this intervention lightly, especially since a bunch of them are part of Mexico’s police force. Overall, during Mr. Fox's administration, 90 soldiers and 18 federal agents have lost their lives in drug violence, while more than 46,000 people have been arrested on drug charges, and numerous landing strips and thousands of acres of poppy and marijuana fields have been destroyed. While it did nothing to stop the flow of drugs to the US, this surge in violence had somewhat of a negative impact on tourism to Mexico, a situation not necessarily made better by a US State Department warning its citizens not to visit Mexico (nice ally, as always!).
How successful is Mexico’s compliance with the requirements of the US war on drugs? Well, let’s just say that Fox administration have taken to consulting with authorities in, of all places, Colombia! Given the well documented failure that is Plan Columbia, this seems to indicate a level of despair not unlike the one experienced by paraphernalia after a night of shooting Jose Cuervo Especial. Of course, Mr. Fox can do a Karzai. Unfortunately, it also seems that the yet unnamed Plan Afghanistanhas not been meeting the objectives of the US either.
What’s a drug warrior to do? Well, since legalization means "surrender" in drug warrior speak, not much can be expected from the US. However, maybe it is time for Colombia, Peru, Bolivia and Mexico to utter a collective "No Mas!" and refuse to take responsibility for what is an American problem.
In the meantime, pour 1/2 oz of tequila some orange juice in a Collins glass over ice, trickle Grenadine on top and watch Mel Gibson, Michelle Pfeiffer, Kurt Russell and Raul Julia slugging it out in yet another drug classic from 1988. Plus ca change……