George W. Grayson is the Class of 1938 Professor of Government at the College of William & Mary, an associate scholar at Foreign Policy Research Institute, and a senior associate at the Center for Strategic & International Studies. He is the author of Mexico's Struggle with Drugs and Thugs and Mexico Narco-Violence and a Failed State?
In their heyday, Los Zetas controlled networks of American police, politicians, judges, and businessmen. The Mexican government is losing its "war on drugs," despite the military, technical, and intelligence resources provided by its northern neighbor. Subcontracted street gangs operate in hundreds of US cities, purchasing weapons, delivering product, executing targeted foes, and bribing the US Border Patrol. Despite crippling losses Los Zetas still dominate Nuevo Laredo, the major portal for legal and illegal bilateral commerce. They also work hand-in-glove with the underworld in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, as well as with gangs like the Maras Salvatruchas.
But the market is booming: In 2009, more people in the United States bought recreational drugs than ever before. In 2009, the United Nations reported that some $350 billion in drug money had been successfully laundered into the global banking system the prior year, saving it from collapse.
How does an "extra" $350 billion in the global economy affect the murder rate in Mexico? To get the story and connect the dogs, acclaimed journalist John Gibler travels across Mexico and slips behind the frontlines to talk with people who live in towns under assault: newspaper reporters and crime-beat photographers, funeral parlor workers, convicted drug traffickers, government officials, cab drivers and others who find themselves living on the lawless frontiers of the drug war. Gibler tells hair-raising stories of wild street battles, kidnappings, narrow escapes, politicians on the take, and the ordinary people who fight for justice as they seek solutions to the crisis that is tearing Mexico apart. Fast-paced and urgent, To Die in Mexico is an extraordinary look inside the raging drug war, and its global implications.
"Gibler's front-line reportage coupled with first-rate analysis gives an uncommonly vivid and nuanced picture of a society riddled and enervated by corruption, shootouts, and raids, where murder is the 'most popular method of conflict resolution.' . . . At great personal risk, the author unearths stories the mainstream media doesn't–or is it too afraid–to cover, and gives voice to those who have been silenced or whose stories have been forgotten." —Publishers Weekly, starred review
"Gibler argues passionately to undercut this 'case study in failure.' The drug barons are only getting richer, the murders mount and the police and military repression expand as 'illegality increases the value of the commodity.' With legality, both U.S. and Mexican society could address real issues of substance abuse through education and public-health initiatives. A visceral, immediate and reasonable argument." —Kirkus Reviews
"Gibler provides a fascinating and detailed insight into the history of both drug use in the US and the 'war on drugs' unleashed by Ronald Reagan through the very plausible – but radical – lens of social control. . . . Throughout this short but powerful book, Gibler accompanies journalists riding the grim carousel of death on Mexico's streets, exploring the realities of a profession under siege in states such as Sinaloa and just how they cover the drugs war." —Gavin O’Toole, The Latin American Review of Books
John Gibler is a writer based in Mexico and California, the author of Mexico Unconquered: Chronicles of Power and Revolt (City Lights Books, 2009), and a contributor to País de muertos: Crónicas contra la impunidad (Random House Mondadori, 2011). He is a correspondent for KPFA in San Francisco and has published in magazines in the United States and Mexico, including Left Turn, Z Magazine, Earth Island Journal, ColorLines, Race, Poverty, and the Environment Fifth Estate, New Politics, In These Times, Yes! Magazine, Contralínea, and Milenio Semanal.
Early in the post-socialist era, Slovenia viewed full North Atlantic Treaty Organization membership as one of its major political goals. Yet, this goal has not yet been accomplished, with only the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland admitted during the first round of NATO enlargement. The rejection of the Slovenian application received considerable attention, both in Europe and in the United States. Furthermore, the fact that Slovenia did not qualify for the first round of NATO expansion has been perceived in Slovenia as a heavy blow to its government. Policymakers and scholars alike are still sorting out the reasons for this political defeat.