Where is the Mexican Uribe?
Over the years, the Mexican political class was happy to blame U.S. consumers for drug cartels. Indeed, drug users are the consumers sending billions of dollars south of the border to fund criminal groups.
However, Mexico is not free of blame, as we have seen in the spread of violence and corruption related to drug cartels.
Mexico needs to borrow a page from President Alvaro Uribe's playbook! In his memoir "No Lost Causes," President Uribe of Colombia told his story, and it is a good one.
Colombia was a disaster in the late 1980s. Some called it a failed state. Most of the middle class was sick and tired of cartels killing policemen and buying judges and politicians.
This is when Alvaro Uribe stepped in:
Alvaro Uribe – a former Partido Liberal member – ran and won in May 2002 on an independent platform to restore security to the country.
Many Congress PL and independent members in both chambers pledged their support to Uribe even prior to his election.
Security improved significantly under Uribe although his fierce campaign against the FARC often seemed to border on the personal: his father was killed by the rebels in a botched kidnapping.
Among his promises was pursuing the broad goals of Plan Colombia within the framework of a long-term strategy.
In the fall of 2002, Uribe released a democratic security strategy that employed political, economic, and military means to weaken all illegal armed groups.
The Uribe government offered to negotiate a peace agreement with these groups if they would agree to a unilateral cease-fire and to end drug trafficking and kidnapping.
In December 2003, the Colombian United Self-Defense Forces (AUC) paramilitary group entered into a peace agreement with the government that led to the collective demobilization of over 31,000 AUC members.
In addition, more than 20,000 members of the FARC, AUC, ELN, and other illegal armed groups have individually surrendered their arms.
In July 2005, President Uribe signed the Justice and Peace Law, which provides reduced punishments for the demobilized if they renounce violence and return illegal assets, which are used by the government to provide reparations to victims.
Alvaro Uribe was the courageous Colombian leader who fought "narco-traficantes" head on. He also understood that you have to do more than kill cartel leaders. He had to create a police force and earn the trust of the middle class living in Colombia's major cities.
So what can President Uribe teach Mexico?
Beyond fighting cartels, Mexico has to look at the scale of the lawlessness, its geographical reach, and the apparent inability of the government to keep it in check.
And President Uribe proved that the people will support a democratically elected leader who establishes order.
Where is Mexico going? I don't know for sure. It would be wise for Mexico's next president to sit down with Alvaro Uribe for a long chat.
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