The recent capture of two of Mexico's most wanted drug lords has been once again hailed as a major coup in the government's nearly decade-long drug war. However, many security experts as well as ordinary Mexicans remain highly skeptical regarding whether these arrests will have any meaningful effect on the state of criminality and violence in the country.
The mood in Mexico is so depressing that even Elena Poniatowska, the novelist-journalist who chronicled the 1968 massacre of students in Tlatelolco, feels a chill when she talks about the murder of 43 students in Ayotzinapa, who were found burned to death in a municipal trash dump. At 82, Poniatowska keeps on exposing social injustice in Mexico in memorable books like Here's to You, Jesusa, Nothing No One: The Voices of the Earthquake and thousands of journalistic articles in newspapers and magazines all over the world. This year, she won the prestigious Premio Cervantes, the equivalent of the Nobel for Spanish language writers.
The impunity enjoyed by some has tarnished the police, prosecutors and politicians as a whole, whether honest or dishonest. To prevent another Iguala -- or another Villas de Salvárcar or another San Fernando -- Mexican leaders must show that rule of law prevails, especially for those required to uphold it.
Today all Mexico resounds with the cry "They took them alive, we want them back alive". If the 43 are ever found, and they are dead (why and where would their abductors be hiding them?), all hell may break loose. Are the president and his cabinet ready for a major upheaval? Police, politicians and judges have been bought off or put into office by the cartels. Mexicans are fed up with living in a pervasive state of corruption and impunity.
Some would say that instead of providing more funds to care for children, we should crack down by amending the law to allow for summary deportations, and by dramatically increasing our enforcement capabilities at the border. This reflects neither the reality of the problem nor our values as a nation.
Public opinion polls show that the majority of Mexicans believe self-defense is the best way to protect your community and a larger majority sees nothing wrong with vigilante justice. One could argue that such an outcome is predictable in a country where 105,000 people are kidnapped for ransom every year, where criminal groups blackmail one of every 10 Mexicans and 96 percent of recorded crimes go unpunished.