There are many kinds of war. The classic image of a uniformed soldier kissing mom good-bye to risk his life on the battlefield has changed dramatically. In today’s wars, it’s more likely that mom will be the one killed.
UNIFEM states that by the mid-1990s, 90% of war casualties were civilians– mostly women and children.
Mexico’s drug war is a good example of the new wars on civilian populations that blur the lines between combatants and place entire societies in the line of fire. Of the more than 50,000 people killed in drug war-related violence, the vast majority are civilians.
President Felipe Calderón claims that 90% of the victims were linked to drug cartels. But how does he know? In a country where only 2% of crimes are investigated, tried, and sentenced, the government pulled this figure out of its sleeve.
There is no official information on why these thousands were killed. When their bodies are found in unmarked mass graves, no one even knows who they were. With violence the norm, executions can —and do— target grassroots leaders, human rights defenders, indigenous peoples, and rebellious youth under the cloak of the drug war.