Friday, April 29, 2011

Children are Harmed, Not Helped, by Unwinnable Drug War


Alter Net/By Daniel Robelo



After forty years and a trillion dollars, supporters of the drug war still claim that any discussion of legalization sends the “wrong message” to children.

After forty years and a trillion dollars, supporters of the drug war still claim that any discussion of legalization sends the “wrong message” to children.

The truth, as seen in news from Mexico ever day, is that the drug war itself is killing children. And the message we send by not discussing alternatives is one of cruel indifference.

According to reports by The Washington Post and Associated Press, at least 1,000 boys and girls have been murdered since Mexican President Felipe Calderon took office and unleashed the army against drug traffickers – with the ready support of the United States. Tens of thousands more have been orphaned; so many in Chihuahua that the state government has set up a special fund to care for them.

Including these young victims, over 37,000 people have been killed since late 2006 in violence caused by drug prohibition in Mexico – similar to what the U.S. experienced during alcohol Prohibition, but far more deadly. Many have been migrants, like those found in mass graves which, as I write, continue to be unearthed in Tamaulipas and Durango; most have been young men and women just entering adulthood.



There’s another way the drug war is ruining the lives of Mexico’s young people: the emergence of something akin to the phenomenon of child-soldiers in other conflict-stricken countries. Children as young as 14 are being forced or recruited into criminal activities ranging from serving as lookouts to hit men (“hit boys” to be precise). Kids are also being recruited by paramilitary organizations and private security companies. This tragic development is fueled by a lack of economic and educational opportunities in many Mexican communities, where live some 7 million youth who are referred to as “ni-ni’s” (short for the Spanish phrase “ni estudian ni trabajan”, or hopeless youngsters that can “neither work nor go to school”). So-called ni-ni’s are easy recruits for jobs in the drug trade, as long as prohibition ensures such dangerous employment pays far more than the few other available options.

The trauma created by this violence is so pervasive that, in a drawing contest in Michoacán to celebrate Mexico’s bicentennial, 90% of children’s submissions instead were depictions of brutal killings and atrocities.

In the face of these child murders – or, for survivors, this death of innocence – the U.S. and Mexican governments remain unapologetic and unashamed in keeping their destructive course. New DEA head Michele Leonhart, echoing Presidents Obama and Calderon, even has the audacity to claim these murders are a “sign of success.”

Her hollow words pay insult to those who have lost sons and daughters. Javier Sicilia, whose son, Juan Francisco, was murdered along with six other young people on March 28, described his family’s suffering in heartrending terms. “The pain…has no name, because it is fruit of something that does not belong in nature – the death of a child is always unnatural and that’s why it has no name: I don’t know if it is orphan or widow…it is simply and painfully nothing.”

In an open letter to the criminals who murdered his son, as well as the politicians of Mexico, Mr. Sicilia demanded an end to this unwinnable war and a respect for innocent lives. His courage has catalyzed a protest movement across Mexico that is only growing stronger, with massive national marches against the drug war planned for May 8. U.S. citizens of conscience should express their support.

But Mr. Sicilia pleaded with us for more than that. He called for the legalization of drugs to stop the violence that is devouring Mexico’s youth, writing, “We have to subject them to the ferocious laws of the market and treat their consumption as a public health matter.”

2 comments:

  1. The pro war people really can never explain to us why these drugs/ medicines have to be kept illegal? Why? What horrible thing would supposedly happen to society if an adult could go into a pharmacy and buy tabs of morphine and codeine legally instead of having to buy heroin illegally from the street.

    Here in Colorado, marijuana is now all over the place legally sold and still society is full of wholesome Tom Tancredos and drone training and operating Air Force cadets. Life does go on. I think life would go on if narcotics, cocaine, marijuana, etc. was decriminalized and addicts helped with something other than a police taser gun or SWAT response team of Gestapo like 'peace officers'.

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  2. I wonder what the true reason is that we are in Afghanistan. I wonder what the CIAs agenda is there. I knew why we were in Iraq, to back our oil tankers up and take the oil. I wonder who is in control of the largest opium field in the world now, the ones in Afghanistan of course. I mention these thing to bring out a point. There are huge profits to be made world wide from illegal drugs. The US knows this and has been involved for years.

    There are so many reasons they will not legalize drugs besides the huge money being made from them. Fist it would turn our system upside down. Our courts would have nothing to do. Our prison systems would have to be emptied. Professionals throughout every federal, state and local government would no loner be needed. Entire agencies would fall to the way side no longer needed. There would be drastic cuts in law enforcement.

    Wow, what if the US had leaders instead of politicians. Leaders that would embrace this idea and use this as a platform to really get our budget under control. Ones that would look at all these discontinued jobs and use that manpower to put "made in the USA," products back on the shelves. What if they turned things around and we stopped offshoring manufacturing and did it in the USA. Could all these professionals be retrained to go to" war for increasing manufacturing and production in the USA" instead of acting like they are involved in the "war on drugs.". The resistance would be unbelievable for these kinds of change. But wind energy, oil production, solar energy would all be another place to start.

    But, what would our politicians wives think about such change? And, wouldn't this be just too much work? Oh, never mind, it was just a thought. This will not fly because there is nothing in the idea that attracts the "family values" voters in America, and that is how politicians get elected.

    TRC

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