The government is now afraid to use public force to prevent demonstrators from blockading roads and streets, stealing buses and trucks, ransacking supermarkets and torching government buildings. President Peña Nieto has claimed that his patience has limits, but so far the Ayotzinapa movement appears to have forced him into a corner.
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.
Paradoxically, whereas the Western powers are probably powerless in Ukraine, Latin America's major players could exert great influence in stopping the unfolding economic, political, and human rights catastrophe in Venezuela. But doing so requires what most Latin American governments sorely lack: vision and courage.
There has been a dramatic plunge in the monarch butterfly population that overwinters in Mexico after flying thousands of miles south from the northern and eastern United States and southern Canada. On the 20th anniversary of NAFTA, I (and all who cherish the monarch butterfly) am urging Presidents Enrique Peña Nieto and Barack Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper to put monarch survival on the agenda of their February 19-20 summit meeting in Toluca, in the state of Mexico.