Monday, October 10, 2011

Sylvia Longmire's "Cartel: The Coming Invasion of Mexico’s Drug Wars"

Sylvia Longmire was a Special Agent in the Air Force and a senior intelligence analyst for the state of California. She has been interviewed on Geraldo at Large, CNN and CNN International, BBC World Radio, and her writing is regularly featured in Homeland Security Today magazine. Currently, Longmire is an independent consultant, and testifies as an expert witness on U.S. asylum cases.

She applied “Page 99 Test” to her new book, Cartel: The Coming Invasion of Mexico’s Drug Wars, and reported the following:
My new book Cartel is an overview of why the violence is happening in Mexico, who the cartels are, and most importantly, how the drug war is having an impact on the United States. What many people seem to forget is that millions of innocent Mexican citizens are living in fear every day, and this war is affecting them in unprecedented ways.

Page 99 of Cartel is in the chapter titled “The Mexican People,” under the subheading “Destroying the Mexican Way of Life.” The page contains a great snapshot view of the situation from the perspective of those suffering south of the border:
Those who decided to stay in Juárez have made profound changes to their daily lives. For example, “83 percent of people said they stopped giving personal information over the phone, 75 percent do not talk to strangers, and a similar percentage stopped going out at night. More than half of respondents said they stopped carrying cash, don’t allow their kids to walk the streets alone, and stopped attending public events.”

Even the city government has acknowledged it can’t do much to stop things from getting more out of control. In late August 2010, it canceled the traditional festivities surrounding Mexico’s day of independence. On the eve of September 16, mayors in Mexico normally lead crowds at city hall esplanades in the traditional ceremony of grito de independencia, or call to independence. To celebrate, every year thousands of Juárez residents flock to city hall to attend the night festival, where mariachis, folk dancers, and singers perform on that evening. Sadly, 2010 was the first time in almost a century that the festivities were cancelled—and all due to the narcos.

Mexicans are not happy with this situation in their country. According to a Pew Research Center poll, almost 80 percent aren’t satisfied with the way the drug war is going. 80 percent fully support the use of the army to fight the cartels, and 55 percent believe the military is making progress. 78 percent of respondents support US assistance in training the Mexican military, 57 percent support American funds going toward Mexico’s efforts, and 26 percent support the deployment of US troops to Mexico. This is unexpected for a country that has historically had a great of deal of tension with the United States stemming from its interventions in Latin American affairs. For a country that abhors US involvement in domestic issues, the support of one out of every four Mexicans for a US military presence on their soil is a big deal, and it shows just how bad things have gotten there.
The contents of Page 99 also highlight the fact the drug war isn’t just Mexico’s problem; it’s a joint problem and a joint responsibility. Most people in the United States either know someone from work, church, social groups, etc. or come across someone from Mexico, and who likely still have family living there. Odds are, those same Mexican neighbors or coworkers or people who work at the local store have been negatively impacted in some way by the drug war.

This isn’t a conflict happening across the globe in the Middle East or Asia; it’s happening in our back yard, and in many cases, it’s sitting comfortably in our living room. Cartel explains to Americans how drug cartels have infiltrated neighborhoods in all fifty states, and why they should aware of and concerned about what our government and law enforcement agencies are trying to do to prevent the drug war from spreading any farther north than it already has.
Learn more about the book and author at Sylvia Longmire's website and blog.

--Marshal Zeringue