Is Mexico a failed state?

Posted: July 26, 2010 in Illegal Immigration, Sad in AZ

Recent spouts of violence, long-standing corruption and a general failure of the Mexican government to protect the average citizens in communities near the US border have had me asking ‘is Mexico becoming a failed state’?

According to Wikipedia’s definition of a “failed state” Mexico would have to meet the following criteria:

  1. loss of physical control of its territory, or of the monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force therein,
  2. erosion of legitimate authority to make collective decisions,
  3. an inability to provide reasonable public services, and
  4. an inability to interact with other states as a full member of the international community.

I think the most obvious sign of failure in Mexico has been their recent loss of control within the border regions.  Drug cartels are murdering officials, conducting bombings and assassinations, and generally controlling the northernmost areas of Mexico.  There is little Mexican officials can do to stop them or to punish them after the fact.  So number 1 on the list above currently seems to be true. 

However, the other three criteria are not met by current circumstances.  So if Mexico isn’t a failed state, what does it matter?  From Arizona’s standpoint, it really doesn’t matter.  What does matter is the reality of Mexico’s loss of physical control over its border region.   The ways that it affects Arizona on a daily basis is too important to ignore.  The fear experienced by Mexicans living in the region leaks over the border to US citizens.  Not to mention the fact that it is used as  political fodder in Arizona’s current election cycle to gin up conservative base support.  No one seems to pay attention to crime stats that show no such violence “leaking” has actually occurred.  But beyond the fear, is the everyday reality of illegal immigrant smuggling.  As the situation worsens in Mexico, it simply provides more people with motivation to flee to the safe and still opportunity-laden US (yes, no matter what Americans may think about the US job market, it is still better than Mexico and most of the other 3rd world nations on the planet).  The US may be deporting more illegals now than ever before but it isn’t stopping them from coming.  It isn’t stopping them from  dying in the attempt either.  Coyotes routinely leave their “cargo” in the desert, leaving the corpses for Border Security, militiamen patrols and aid groups to find. 

It is also true that the violence and loss of control in Mexico has prompted the recent unleashing of unconstitutional and controversial state legislation (e.g., SB1070). That in turn has prompted over 100,000 illegal immigrants to move out of Arizona and, for most of them, deeper into the US.  Perhaps as the multitudes of illegal immigrants begin to really flood other states and towns, the concerns of Arizona will become more noticeable and present in the minds of the rest of America.  Perhaps Illegal Immigration Reform will be something that the country should face as a whole instead of leaving it to the states “stuck” in those regions. 

Unfortunately the US has very few options regarding what it can do about Mexico.  Here’s a link that explains very succinctly the options of US intervention and why Mexico will become an increasingly important issue as we begin to address the issue of Illegal Immigration.

No matter what, it’s incredibly sad to say that it takes such a breakdown in the rule of law in Mexico, the use of fear and racism in AZ, and the destruction of innocent lives in order to make the US face this issue head on.

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