Basic Truths on US-Mexican Relations
In fact, yes: the demand for drugs does come largely from the US.
Via Reuters: Obama tells Mexicans a ‘new Mexico’ is emerging.
Drug-fueled violence in Mexico is not entirely the fault of the Mexican people, he said. Instead, the United States shares the blame because much of the violence is centered around the Americans’ demand for illegal drugs and the fact that guns are smuggled into Mexico from the United States.
“In this relationship there is no senior partner or junior partner. We are two equal partners, two sovereign nations that must work together in mutual interest and mutual respect,” Obama said.
From the speech itself:
And in the United States, we recognize our responsibilities. We understand that much of the root cause of violence that’s been happening here in Mexico, for which many so Mexicans have suffered, is the demand for illegal drugs in the United States. And so we’ve got to continue to make progress on that front.
And we also recognize that most of the guns used to commit violence here in Mexico come from the United States. (Applause.) I think many of you know that in America, our Constitution guarantees our individual right to bear arms, and as President I swore an oath to uphold that right and I always will. But at the same time, as I’ve said in the United States, I will continue to do everything in my power to pass common-sense reforms that keep guns out of the hands of criminals and dangerous people. That can save lives here in Mexico and back home in the United States. It’s the right thing to do. (Applause.) So we’ll keep increasing the pressure on gun traffickers who bring illegal guns into Mexico. We’ll keep putting these criminals where they belong — behind bars.
It has to be recognized, if one actually wants to understand the situation, that these are the basic facts. The main market for the drugs in question is the United States. This has been true as long as there has been a “war on drugs.” Of course, the speaking of the truth has resulted in the typical pantomime in which someone speaks the truth (that American demand is the main driver of the drug trade) and then an American commenter who doesn’t understand the situation reacts with outrage! because the speaker of truth is “blaming the US” (see Jim Hoft, amongst others). This cycle has been going on since at least the 1980s when the discussion was in the context of US-Andean relations.
The basic economics of the drug war is simple: demand drives the process, not supply and the demand is in the US (and Europe).
Further, the US is the major source for the guns used by the cartels. Of course, this has provided a revival of Fast and Furious chatter (such as here and here). Never mind, of course, that the only reason the ill-fated program existed was because of the problem with gun smuggling to being with. (Also, anyone who is familiar with the situation knows that the problem is gun-smuggling into Mexico is decades-old).
It is also true that the perception (and the reality) in US-Mexican relations over time has been one of the US acting like the senior partner and treating Mexico like the junior partner (and despite presidential rhetoric, odds are that this will remain the case).
Of course, it is easier, I suppose, to simply assume that the US is always in the right and that foreigners are always wrong (rinse, repeat).