Violent Mexican Drug War Casts Shadow Over Spring Break

The hordes of fun-seeking co-eds who made their way to Cancun for spring break this year were largely unaware of the drug-related kidnappings, beheadings and general violence that has plagued Mexico since the country's narco war came to the fore in 2008. It's too much to handle—even with a wicked tequila buzz.

The rivalry between the Calderón government and the fractious armies of drug cartels threatens to make Mexico look a lot less like Girls Gone Wild. In 2008, over 6,200 drug-related killings were attributed to the drug war. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas believes Mexico’s two largest drug cartels have a corps of 100,000 foot soldiers ready to take on government anti-drug forces.

Ciudad Juárez, a stone's throw from El Paso has become a no-go zone with drug lords battling los federales. Gangs have begun to fly ultralights across the border and into drug drops, thereby trafficking to Americans the roughly $30 billion in methamphetamines, marijuana and heroin they blow through every year. This spring, for the first time, gangs signaled that they would not hesitate to target American students enjoying the whitesand beaches hopping nightlife.

Former CIA Director George Tenet was concerned enough to email his son at the University of Pennsylvania to discourage him from going to Cancun this year. Colleges and universities have followed suit warning students to pick other countries.

The violence has become so intense in Chihuahua and Nuevo Leon that Texas Governor Perry has initiated Operation Border Star, a transboundary operation to respond quickly to any violence that may spill over from south of the Rio Grande.

The easiest solution to Mexico's drug war might be lessening the demand for the drugs that are fueling the violence in the first place through anti-drug campaigns north of the border. But given the success of such campaigns in the past, perhaps that's a facile approach. The likeliest arbiter in the Mexican dispute could be the recession. A hit of meth can go for $80. What recession-pinched free basing college student can afford that?

How to vaccinate the world’s most vulnerable? Build global partnerships.

Pfizer's partnerships strengthen their ability to deliver vaccines in developing countries.

Susan Silbermann, Global President of Pfizer Vaccines, looks on as a health care worker administers a vaccine in Rwanda. Photo: Courtesy of Pfizer.
  • Community healthcare workers face many challenges in their work, including often traveling far distances to see their clients
  • Pfizer is helping to drive the UN's sustainable development goals through partnerships.
  • Pfizer partnered with AMP and the World Health Organization to develop a training program for healthcare workers.
Keep reading Show less

James Patterson on writing: Plotting, research, and first drafts

The best-selling author tells us his methods.

  • James Patterson has sold 300 million copies of his 130 books, making him one of the most successful authors alive today.
  • He talks about how some writers can overdo it by adding too much research, or worse, straying from their outline for too long.
  • James' latest book, The President is Missing, co-written with former President Bill Clinton, is out now.
Keep reading Show less

How to split the USA into two countries: Red and Blue

Progressive America would be half as big, but twice as populated as its conservative twin.

Image: Dicken Schrader
Strange Maps
  • America's two political tribes have consolidated into 'red' and 'blue' nations, with seemingly irreconcilable differences.
  • Perhaps the best way to stop the infighting is to go for a divorce and give the two nations a country each
  • Based on the UN's partition plan for Israel/Palestine, this proposal provides territorial contiguity and sea access to both 'red' and 'blue' America
Keep reading Show less

Why the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner won’t feature a comedian in 2019

It's the first time the association hasn't hired a comedian in 16 years.

(Photo by Anna Webber/Getty Images for Vulture Festival)
Culture & Religion
  • The 2018 WHCA ended in controversy after comedian Michelle Wolf made jokes some considered to be offensive.
  • The WHCA apologized for Wolf's jokes, though some journalists and many comedians backed the comedian and decried arguments in favor of limiting the types of speech permitted at the event.
  • Ron Chernow, who penned a bestselling biography of Alexander Hamilton, will speak at next year's dinner.
Keep reading Show less