Mexico City, Mexico: Pick up the papers in Mexico these days and you’re likely to see something particularly alarming: among the daily toll of deaths and arrests in the country’s war on organized crime are an increasing number of children. Earlier this week, Mexican police pulled six combatants (two of them girls) under the age of 19 out of a firefight with the Zetas, one of the country’s largest organized crime cartels. In all, some 3,664 minors have been arrested in anti-crime operations since 2006.
The spectacular stories beg hard questions. Parts of Mexico are unmistakably at war, and what we know about conflict — particularly messy conflicts — is that somewhere along the chain children are always affected. On one side of the spectrum they are victims, caught up in the fighting themselves or witnesses to it. Or perhaps they are just prohibited from going out to play — or going to school. To the other extreme is the kind of child soldiering that plagues civil wars worldwide.
Mexico is seeing some degree of all of these troubles — so how bad is it?
Originally posted at www.elizabeth-dickinson.com