Mexico’s drugs war and the challenges facing its new President


Since Mexican President Felipe Calderon initiated a large scale crackdown on drug cartels in 2006 funded by millions of dollars in US military aid, the death toll in the country is believed to have reached 50,000 or more.

Human rights violations have increased, as has the murder rate, with Ciudad Juárez on the northern border now recognised as the most dangerous city on the planet. Meanwhile, the supply of cocaine, heroin, marijuana and methamphetamine from Mexico has continued to increase.

As a new president prepares to take office following the 1 July elections, we will be exploring the challenges ahead and the different forces at play in this long and bloody war, assessing how successful the policies of the US and Mexican governments have been in breaking up and destroying the drug cartels.

Chaired by BBC correspondent Katya Adler


Rupert Knox, Amnesty International Mexico Researcher.

Juan Carlos Gutiérrez Contreras, a Mexican lawyer who specialises in criminal law and human rights. He has been a consultant for the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights–Mexico; Director for the Program of Cooperation on Human Rights Mexico-European Union, and Regional Director of Centre for Justice and International Law (CEJIL). Currently he is General Director of the Mexican Commission of Defence and Promotion of Human Rights.

Peter Watt, Lecturer in Hispanic Studies at the University of Sheffield. His research field covers Latin American politics and history, with a particular focus on issues of human rights, political repression, narcotrafficking, freedom of expression and censorship in Mexico. Co-author of Drug War Mexico: Politics, Neoliberalism and Violence in the New Narcoeconomy.

Silvia Vazquez, a lawyer working in Baja California. She was working in the State Human Rights Commission (Baja California Commission for Citizen Protection and Human Rights) as a General Examiner before she had to leave her job and flee because of fears that her life was in danger as a result of her human rights activism.

Ed Vulliamy, a writer for the Guardian and Observer, and author of Amexica: War Along the Borderline.