Ralph Blumenthal, who has done some fantastic investigative crime reporting, wrote an article in the Times this weekend examining the FBI's efforts in the 1980s to break up a sect of the Sicilian Mafia by cooperating with the Italian government. Blumenthal wonders if  this method could be used to break up some of the drug gangs in Mexico. The comparison both works and doesn't. Clearly we live in a vastly different world than the one the Brooklyn Mafia dominated, but the common thread is asking for international cooperation to leverage power against drug lords that cannot be countered by one government alone. The problem is, if anything, greater this time around. Since 2006, in Mexico, there have been 4,402 violent deaths in Mexico -- of those, at least 449 were police officers or soldiers.

Meanwhile the dialog related to Mexico in the United States is restricted primarily to immigration. The media generally ignores the reality that Latin immigration in the United States is related to much larger socioeconomic problems. The best we get is the occasional in-depth reports about the violence in Mexico (I'm thinking specifically about the excellent article the WaPo ran last spring about how Mexican journalists are unable to do their jobs thanks to the violence there). Unfortunately with media attention focused on the Middle East, the problems of Latin America have fallen to the wayside, restricted to a debate around immigration that is limited in scope.

--Kay Steiger

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