That was 25 years ago. Last weekend, a U.S. consular official, her husband and the husband of another consulate employee were fatally shot after attending a children's birthday party in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano called the killings "brutal, unconscionable and unforgivable." This was another crime in a different city controlled by a different cartel. But it is all part of the same war of attrition that has been underway for more than a quarter of a century. What progress do the United States and Mexico have to show for it? Drug consumption in the U.S. has continued unabated, and the violence has only increased.
In the first 2 1/2 months of this year, nearly 500 people have been killed in Ciudad Juarez's drug violence, many of them bystanders to the battles among competing drug gangs and between cartels and government troops. That's in addition to the more than 2,600 killings there last year -- not across the globe in Baghdad or Kabul, but in a city on our border. The violence has driven out a quarter of Juarez's residents in the last two years.