Earlier this year, a Mexican think tank released a report which found that five of the 10 most violent cities in the world are in Mexico, and 45 of the 50 most violent cities are in Central or South America (scroll down here for the list).
Today, I’ll be heading to Fort Bliss, a post I’m privileged to visit four or five times each year, to lecture on issues relating to Afghanistan. It’s always weird landing at El Paso International Airport, as the plane flies low over the Mexican border, giving us window-seat passengers a clear view of the slums of Ciudad Juárez, the second most violent city on earth, according to the list. When I talk to long-time El Paso/Fort Bliss residents or those who had been stationed at Fort Bliss in years past, many talk about the fun times, great restaurants, and excellent shopping they enjoyed in Juárez. Today, however, the city is strictly no-go.
The problem, of course, is the rise of drug cartels in Mexico. While Los Zetas may not be the dominant group in Juárez, they are one of the most infamous in Mexico. As the civilian murder rate in Mexico exceeds, according to some accounts, that of Afghanistan, the U.S. position has largely been to ignore the problem and hope it goes away. Alas, cancers left untreated spread.