By Misha Glenny for The New York Times. In January, at least nine people were shot to death in Mexico’s Guerrero state during a traditional coming-out party for a 15-year-old girl. Many victims of drug-related violence in Mexico ceased a long time ago to have any apparent connection with the trade. In 2014, members of a drug cartel along with local police abducted and presumably killed 43 student teachers for no discernible reason other than they were preparing to demonstrate against the lamentable state of education in their region.

According to a PBS documentary broadcast last year, the number of homicides in Mexico stood at more than 164,000, between 2007 and 2014. The combined figure for civilian deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq over the same period was 103,000. In the last decade, Mexico has been the most dramatic theater in a crisis that engulfs countries as far apart as Jamaica and Brazil. The Rio-based research institute Igarapé (on whose international advisory board I sit) has found that half of Brazil’s more than 50,000 annual homicides are directly related to the drug industry.

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