US drug war is killing Mexico

Legalization of drugs is the only solution to an out-of-hand problem.

I was astonished by yesterdayâÄôs letter to the editor âÄúIllegal drugs donâÄôt make the criminal.âÄù This is an extremely misled and perverted view on our war on drugs. The author slanders Mexicans and skews reality with factoids such as âÄúthese people were violent, murderous psychopaths independent of (and before) entering the drug trade.âÄù How well does he know these people? This makes the border violence seem irrational and unstoppable. âÄúPlata or plomoâÄù (in English âÄúsilver or leadâÄù) is the slogan of the drug cartels. This means that to maintain power, cartels bribe politicians and police, and if that fails, they remove their obstruction via assassination. How can you arrest all the instigators of the violence when they themselves are the puppetmasters manipulating a marionette government? Many police and politicians themselves are members of these criminal organizations. Why? Money. Even an honest attempt at eradicating the drug trade only escalates violence; since Felipe Calderon took office in 2006 and shortly thereafter began a U.S.-backed military offensive on cartels, there have been an estimated 22,700 casualties in Mexico. The author claims âÄúa lucrative illegal drug trade does not make drug dealers violent.âÄù This is a misinterpretation of the situation. âÄúDrug dealersâÄù is not a suitable term for those who commit this violence. These are not salesmen on the corner robbing and fighting each other and clients. The violence is not landing on just police and politicians; control of the finite border is very valuable to the cartels; thus, there is a power struggle âÄî a turf war âÄî and unfortunately many innocent people get caught in the middle. The men with guns are henchmen and mercenaries of the cartels who are paid specifically to carry out tasks like assassinations. Some may indeed be deranged psychopaths, but they donâÄôt simply kill for sport or because they are crazy. They kill because they make more money doing that than any other job for an uneducated individual in the third world. If a hit man is killed or arrested, five more impoverished Mexicans are ready to accept the job. They arenâÄôt insane; they are hungry and their kids are hungry. Proverbially, âÄúmoney is the root of all evil,âÄù and money indeed drives drug violence. The author also claims âÄúthe best solution is incarcerating the violent, murderous psychopathic felons who are willing to kill or kidnap to make a profit.âÄù This âÄúbestâÄù solution is not even logical; itâÄôs like mopping the floor while the faucetâÄôs still overflowing. Just turn the water off. We need to turn the cash flow off. This money comes from a variety of sources, including prostitution, racketeering, theft, kidnapping and of course drug trafficking. However, over 60 percent of the estimated $13.8 billion raked in by Mexican cartels in 2006 came from cannabis sales alone. This drug is safer than alcohol and tobacco, yet its prohibition is destroying Mexico. America consumes more drugs than any other country, and thus AmericaâÄôs insatiable appetite for drugs fuels the violence. A March 2009 report, âÄúThe Incarceration of Drug Offenders: An Overview,âÄù published by the Beckley Foundation Drug Policy Programme analyzes worldwide drug and crime policy and statistics and concludes: âÄúGiven the significant costs of incarceration as a way of reducing drug problems, (in budget terms, but also in terms of the negative impact on community relations, social cohesion and public health), it is hard to justify a drug policy approach that prioritises widespread arrest and harsh penalties for drug users on grounds of effectiveness.âÄù The report details how America incarcerates its own people more than any other country, and 53 percent of federal inmates are in for drug charges (19.5 percent at the state level). Obviously the current technique doesnâÄôt work. To diffuse the violence, we need to end the war on drugs. Legalization would take control of drugs and their related profits out of the hands of violent criminals and put it into the hands of responsible businesses and government regulation. Juan Medina Bielski, University undergraduate student, Students for a Sensible Drug Policy