The photo book, Narco Estado: Drug Violence in Mexico, by Teun Voeten, published by Lannoo, takes a thorough look at the drug violence in Mexico. Voeten in his thoughtful essay that accompanies his photos, clearly and logically makes a case that the drug violence in Mexico has passed a threshold and become a war.
Coming from Voeten this is not a casual statement. For the past two decades he has been covering wars and conflicts around the world. He was in Sarajevo when snipers were shooting innocent civilians. In Kigali he witnessed the start of the genocide. In Afghanistan he walked in residential neighborhoods reduced to rubble. In Sierra Leone and Liberia he witnessed doped-up child soldiers. He was in Baghdad un-embedded when American troops rolled in. And most recently in Libya he smelled the sickening odor from piles of dead bodies.
According to Voeten, "Nothing compares to the recent drug violence in Mexico."
Voeten calls this "A new type of war, one that is prolonged of low intensity, lacking in ideology, where feigned ethnic and religious grievances are used as an excuse to grab power; And where civilians are targeted in order to bring a state of fear, chaos and lawlessness that is a goal in itself."
Teun points an accusatory finger not just at the criminal elements waging this new type of war but also at the authorities with his statement that 98 percent of the murders are not solved and murders that are classified as 'Drug Related' are not investigated.
According to Voeten "Some parts of Mexico are de facto controlled by organized crime."
While most media sources marginalize the story as drug related gang violence. Voeten, sees "A problem with immense social and political implications brought on by the devaluation of human life, that presents a nightmarish scenario."
Voeten says "Worst we can do is close our eyes and ignore these developments."
Perhaps this is why he presents us with photos that are impossible to ignore.
Purchase Narco Estado at your local book shop or on Amazon