Sunday, August 8, 2010
The Error in the Fight Against the Narcos
Por: Genoveva Flores
The Government should include Society in the strategy against drug trafficking, says Genoveva Flores. Society was not excluded in the fight against the Mafias in Sicily, Naples and Colombia.
Airport Taxi drivers from Apodaca, or Monterrey families and workers, they all know to minimize travel to Reynosa, especially after five in the afternoon or risk attending the battle front of the Army and Navy’s war against drug trafficking as spectators of the nightmare that changed their way of life and undermined their safety.
Like them, the inhabitants of Michoacan, Zacatecas, Veracruz, Morelos and of course the Northwest states and all the states across the Northern border have stopped seeing the Narco problem as an isolated issue rooted in rural areas.
Because the Narco crisis today is there on the road home in your municipality, or in the municipality next door.
The severity of the change from the decade of the 90s to today is that the idea that drugs are a way of getting rich quickly and a guarantee of impunity for a new generation of young people has deepened in the social imagination, both in the rural areas and in the cities even for social sectors that had remained outside its hold.
Evidence of this is seen in the Inmujeres report, which shows a 400% increase among female prisoners linked to the drug trade in the last five years.
This is a major problem. In February Ricardo Garcia Villalobos, president of the Agrarian Superior Court, alleged that in 30% of the Mexican countryside traditional crops now coexist with crops (marijuana, opium) related to drug trafficking.
It is the drug traffickers who provide rural finance and it impacts approximately 6 million hectares, equivalent to the acreage of all the irrigation districts of the country. And they do it at the base of the social pyramid, in the space where before policies reached the poor to promote agricultural production.
These state policies have abandoned the poor and are now concentrated in the middle “productive” agricultural sector, as evidenced by the pattern of Procampo, in accordance with neoliberal economic policies followed by the Mexican Government.
President Felipe Calderon in a recent national speech explains what the federal government is doing about the drug trafficking crisis and noted as a cause the poverty that exists in many sectors of society, but his strategy only highlights the use of armed tactics and military strategy.
Society is absent. There is a role assigned to us in this fight against organized crime. And that's a big gap, which can be viewed in the light of international experiences with similar problems, as they were and are still fighting the Mafia in Sicily and Naples, and the narcos in Colombia.
None of these strategies excluded society. From the churches to the mothers' organizations and civil society, the dismantling of the drug networks and mafias was accompanied by a participatory society, who turned fear into valor and joined the fight for justice.
The president's strategy lacks this fundamental piece, the society which now experiences with horror the consequences of the fight against drug trafficking without any secure, accessible and real mechanisms with which to collaborate in the fight.
All those who do not live in large cities most likely know where and who the dealers are. The residents of the most exclusive subdivisions know which homes belong to drug dealers, some may even attend their parties.
Much information is visible to persons who refuse to be involved in illegal activities, but they do not have mechanisms for the secure delivery of information, as we all know very well the high level of infiltration of organized crime among the local, state and federal police force.
For a real fight against drug trafficking it is also necessary for public policy to refocus on the problems of the base of the social pyramid, both in the countryside and in the city, and perhaps to modify the neoliberal model that calls for less government.
A thinner, less expensive state is still very expensive if one accounts for the effect of marginalization, lack of opportunities, the sorry state of basic and secondary education.
It is much more expensive to let conditions deteriorate in large sectors of society and the cost is that organized crime finds fertile ground in their abandonment by the State.
We need to return the State to lead the rural development in the "less productive” agricultural sector through non-protectionist public policies, but we need development as well in the large urban areas, mainly aimed at our youth, to break the social base from the Narcos, something that the State’s bullets will never accomplish.