Even if they are not directly affected, "people are experiencing terror from this world of death and violence," says Raúl Villamil Uriarte, a social psychologist and anthropologist at the Metropolitan Autonomous University in Mexico City. "The nation is suffering post-traumatic stress disorder from all this violence playing out."
The 'cockroach effect'
President Calderón's drug war strategy, which unleashed 45,000 military troops to loosen the grip of organized crime in the most-affected municipalities – such as Tijuana and Ciudad Juárez, and more recently Acapulco and here in Veracruz – has had some formidable success. In July, the government boasted that its campaign had taken down 21 of the 37 most-wanted drug traffickers.
But violence has exploded. Drug-related homicides surged from 2,826 in 2007 to 15,273 last year, according to government data.