Despite the grinding poverty that afflicts millions of Mexicans, the nation of 100 million on the US southern border has so far avoided a repeat of last century's Mexican Revolution, a decade-long, multi-sided civil war beginning in 1910 that left two million Mexicans dead. Part of the reason is the drug trade, a prominent Mexican researcher told a Mexico City conference on drug use Sunday.

Nelia Tello Peon, professor in the National School of Social Work at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), told the conference a social explosion has been avoided because poor people have "found alternate ways of survival," including migration to the US, working as ambulant vendors in the informal sector of the economy and working in the drug trade. Peon criticized the drug trade as an activity that "destroys or degenerates everything it touches," but added that "you cannot forget that the drug trade is fundamentally a problem of the market."

Hundreds of thousands of Mexicans participate in the drug traffic -- as peasant growers, middlemen, drivers, warehousemen, pistoleros, accountants and money managers, among others. Countless others benefit indirectly from profits generated by the drug trade. But Mexico is also seeing higher rates of drug use and abuse as some proportion of drugs in transit through the country on the way north "fall off the back of the truck."

-- END --
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