August 5, 2010 12:52 PM   Subscribe

Is Mexico a failed state?

There is article after article referencing the way in which drug cartels are now supplanting the government with civic services, taxing citizens and such. What happens if/when the Calderon government falls?
posted by four panels to Society & Culture (14 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Getting there.
posted by Joe Beese at 12:55 PM on August 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Overall, it is certainly not meeting the definition yet.
posted by bearwife at 1:00 PM on August 5, 2010

The Mexican gov't will continue to be propped up by the US because the entire reason they're failing is due to the US War on Drugs. They're not going anywhere.
posted by unixrat at 1:05 PM on August 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

Here's the list.

They are in the warning category. While clearly having issues on delivering security, the government is still functioning and delivering services in a more or less consistent manner.
posted by kjs3 at 1:08 PM on August 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

To your second question, the idea is that one of the two opposition parties will simply be elected and government will revert back to the old policies of placating the cartels and ending direct confrontation, in exchange for less of the in your face type disobedience/outrageous violence. I wouldn't be surprised if that happens in 2012.
posted by the foreground at 1:20 PM on August 5, 2010

the entire reason they're failing is due to the US War on Drugs

The danger of speaking in absolutes: their governmental and law enforcement structures ain't exactly helping either.
posted by yerfatma at 1:41 PM on August 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

Mexico indeed seems to be getting there, though I'd argue it's been a failed state since 1929.

But if Colombia isn't a failed state, then Mexico isn't, either.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:15 PM on August 5, 2010

Uh...if you really want to see what failed states look like, think Iraq (bad), Afghanistan (worse), or Somalia (fucking hopeless).

I go to Mexico all the time. Sure, in the border states and some rural areas the drug cartel reign supreme, but in urban centres like D.F., Monterrey or Guadalajara you lead your daily life without the "war on drugs" affecting you the least bit except having to incessantly hear about it via gringo propaganda.
posted by randomstriker at 2:29 PM on August 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

The danger of speaking in absolutes: their governmental and law enforcement structures ain't exactly helping either.

The amount of corruption and incompetence isn't enough to cause a failed state, except when every single facet of government is being hammered by the WoD/cartels.

The cartels are a direct result of the WoD and as such, we deserve the blame.
posted by unixrat at 2:30 PM on August 5, 2010

No. It is not.
posted by yoyo_nyc at 2:59 PM on August 5, 2010

@Cool Papa Bell

You must have been in Colombia decades ago. You should update you knowledge. I felt saver in Colombia than in most Brazilian cities...(and I speak Portuguese)
posted by yoyo_nyc at 3:01 PM on August 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

You must have been in Colombia decades ago.

That's exactly what I meant. Despite the drug cartels and the FARC insurgency, we don't think Colombia is a failed state. Not veven in the depths of the 80s-90s.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:41 PM on August 5, 2010

Bearwife's linked definition seems to only view it through the lens of services to the poor. Which is certainly an aspect of failure of a state, but I can't imagine it is the only one. A state can be completely functional without doing those things- especially if they never did them to begin with. Failing to protect the poor because everyone is stealing the food is a failure of state, but not protecting the poor because nobody wants to is not. Might be a societal failure, but not a failure of state.

A failed state would be one where the various social "chains of command" don't work. If a congress passes a law and nobody bothers to listen to it. If courts make rulings that aren't paid attention to. Police forces operating less as law enforcement and more as thugs. Where elections don't really matter. If a president orders troops somewhere and they don't go, or orders them to stand down and they don't.

Mexico seems to have areas where some of this is happening, but certainly not the majority of areas.

I don't know a whole lot about Mexican law, but wikipedia says it is a federal constitutional republic. This leads me to believe that it differs from a parliamentary system where the government is formed out of whoever wins the elections. That a Calderon loss might mean changes, but there would still be a separate representative body that could act to stem any tide.
posted by gjc at 4:18 PM on August 5, 2010

I wish people would get a sense of perspective about this. Mexico is the 11th most populous country in the world. It is nowhere near a failed state.

The actions of the drug cartels make for fabulous news but they don't reflect reality for the majority of Mexican citizens. Yes, some border towns and border states are near chaos but Mexico is an enormous country too. It is in the best interest for the President to highlight the dangers of the cartels because he is fighting them and needs support and money.

kjs3's list above has China and Egypt much higher on the failed states index than Mexico. Heck, even South Africa is in the 'warning' category.

On the other side of the coin, Calderon also assures people that he is on track to provide Universal Health Care by 2011. And there's more and more Americans willingly moving to this failed state.
posted by vacapinta at 8:07 AM on August 6, 2010

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