Mexico's Dark War
Tens of thousands of people have been killed since 2006 when Mexico’s then-President Calderon started an all-out push to subdue the country’s powerful organized crime groups. Frequent news reports of horrific violence led to the perception of Mexico as one of the most dangerous countries in the world.
Although clashes between Mexico’s security forces and criminals resulted in many casualties, most of the dead fell in an all-out turf war amongst the criminal gangs competing for drug smuggling corridors. For a while, most ordinary citizens could pretend that this war had nothing to do with them. However, when the cartels expanded their operations into oil theft, kidnappings and extortion, a feeling of civilian unease descended upon the country.
Since coming to power in late 2012, the Peña Nieto government has tried to focus attention on Mexico’s economic achievements, but the brutal murder of 43 students in Iguala, Guerrero, on September 26, 2014 put the issue of violence and impunity firmly back on the forefront. The massacre led to widespread revulsion and mass demonstrations by fed-up citizens. In the nearly lawless states of Guerrero and Michoacán, locals took security into their own hands by forming self defense forces that aimed to expel organized crime groups from their communities. These controversial efforts are ongoing to this day.