Commentary: Mexico's drug war is ours too

It sometimes seems that California is sharing a border with Iraq or Afghanistan instead of Mexico.

A war is in our midst, though the carnage and militarization in Mexico — and our connection to it — is often background noise.

So in case you missed it: Reuters is reporting that beginning today, the U.S. government will deploy surveillance aircraft — Predator B drones — to monitor the approximately 1,900 miles of border Mexico shares with the United States.

Where commercials once extolled "The Warmth of Mexico," now there is the horror of Mexico. Corpses of 72 migrants were found last week in the northern border state of Tamaulipas. A survivor told of being abducted by drug cartels that executed the migrants one by one and stacked their remains in a barn.

A state investigator probing the massacre has disappeared. A Tamaulipas mayor was recently murdered, his 6-year-old daughter wounded by gunfire. Two car bombs exploded in Ciudad Victoria, the capital of Tamaulipas. Explosives went off in the city of Reynosa, directly across from McAllen, Texas.

In all, roughly 28,000 people have been killed in the three years since Mexican President Felipe Calderón declared war on Mexico's ominous drug cartels.

What a tragedy.

Mexico is so close to our daily lives and yet so far from our daily thoughts.

When we focus at all it's in election season silliness, as when former Gov. Pete Wilson goes out to beat the immigration drum in support of Meg Whitman, the GOP candidate for governor.

Wilson infamously rode immigrant hostility all the way to re-election in 1994. Considering the ocean of Mexican blood spilled by fighting drug lords doing business in California and every other state, the scapegoating of Mexico today is even more cynical than it was in '94.

I covered the Mexican elections that year for The Bee, when Mexico was still a one-party dictatorship deserving of scorn. It's now a fledgling democracy with opposition parties and progressive initiatives.

Calderón recognized that drug lords had permeated every institution in the nation. For any democracy to be taken seriously, its institutions must be taken seriously.

In this context, the push to legalize marijuana in California is an insult to Mexico. The fantasy that murderers will somehow go legit if their product is legalized is a joke.

What? Cartels that think nothing of slaughtering children will change their ways because suddenly their wares are legal?

It's a stoner's pipe dream. Meanwhile, Mexicans fight to protect their institutions and pay for our addictions with their blood.