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Who will cast the first stone?

20 August 2008

Don Henry Ford Jr.,  “The Unrepentant Cowboy“,  in his own words, a “former dope smuggler, convict, bronc rider, dope-addict and general no-good,” pens a moving tribute to the forgotten man in the “drug war” (The Agonist):

Celerino was my protector while I was a fugitive in the desert mountains of Coahuila, Mexico. I was not the only one under his care; during that period, at least a hundred families depended on this quiet unassuming man for our daily bread and for protection from unsavory actors, both legal and otherwise.

Celerino became an unwitting participant in the drug business, largely due to the involvement of his own children and people like me. He never quite understood the attraction to marijuana, just as he never quite understood why Americans would pay so much for the candelilla wax he smuggled in his younger years. He just knew there was a market for the stuff and that it didn’t appear to make me go crazy when I smoked it in his presence. It certainly appeared no worse than the mescal the white men came looking for. And the money it generated fed a lot of hungry people.

It’s people like Don Celerino that make a militarized response to the narcotics trade not only counter-productive, but dangerous.  They are no more “evil” than the small town mayor who pumps for a prison in his depressed Texas town,  the kid who joins the Marines to support his family and goes to Iraq, the immigrant who crosses the border without papers to earn the money to bail out the family farm.

What is a farmer to do… not grow the crops that sell?  I grew up in wine country.  No one ever accused our local grape growers of causing alcoholism, or filling the jails and emergency rooms of the United States with the sweat of their brow.

Farmers everywhere are at the mercy of their buyers.

A military raid on a farmer like Don Celerino does very little except force the farmer to seek the protection of one or another of his buyers.

This is the second problem:  good farmers are stewards of their land.  THEIR land.  A military action makes the Army — and the State — the enemy.  If you read a headline like “ten killed at wedding in Sinaloa” you can almost guarantee it had to do with a dispute between buyers, or between the buyer and the grower.  Or… had I read such a headline from Colombia… it might have been the Army or some paramilitary political force.

This is the biggest danger of all.  That people, trying to survive will lose faith in the State, or the State lose faith in the people.

I have nothing against the soldiers, the Bell Helicopter workers in Fort Worth who will be earning money from the funding to support those soldiers ordered to attack small farmers like Don Celerino and his family, nor the farmers.  IN the normal course of things, they would never interact.  But they do… and more’s the pity.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. mexijo permalink
    20 August 2008 12:50 pm

    You are talking too much common sense 😉

  2. Mr. Rushing permalink
    20 August 2008 11:44 pm

    Yep yep

  3. 21 August 2008 6:06 am

    What are acceptable drug interdiction and drug trade prevention strategies?
    1. Prevent production
    2. Prevent distribution
    3. Prevent usage
    4. Prevent re-investment of profits.

    Why would you exclude one of the four approaches because you like one farmer?

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