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Co-dependent no more?

10 March 2009

As Inca Kola, Bo Rev and others are beginning to notice, Latin America is rapidly losing patience with the addict north of the Rio Bravo/Rio Grande River.

Inca nicely captures the problem we face in Latin America, by quoting from a short article on addiction and treatment:

The principal obstacles to recovery from any addiction are ignorance, shame, dishonesty, and personal exceptionalism..

On the latter, the author,  Floyd P. Garrett, M.D., writes:

Addictive rationalizations and justifications usually involve both denial or minimization of the actual negative consequences of the addictive behavior together with a displacement of responsibility for it.

I was raised in the New York State wine country, and my father made his living supplying the wineries. No one would blame liquor stores, let alone wineries… or grape growers, or the manufacturer of the pipes and valves my father sold for alcoholism. Yet, U.S. exceptionalism seems to blame others… the growers and suppliers… for their own addictions.

Worse, especially for Mexico, is the assumption that those others — the Mexican people — should shoulder the burden of the addictive behavior of their neighbor.  Why should a thousand people … even if they are mostly gangsters and cops (often the same thing)… die in Mexico because the U.S. cannot control it’s own problems?

I hate to say it, but the United States needs a 12-Step Program.  It is powerless over it’s addictions, but is unwilling to admit it.  It has not done an inventory of those who are harmed by their actions, nor are the willing to make amends.  Until such time, maybe the best, and kindest, thing to do is for the Latin American nations to adopt the Al-Anon program:

“David P.”, talking about his wife’s particular addiction (alcoholism) writes:

Each person has the right to experience the consequences of his or her own actions, and I denied my wife that right. Al-Anon explained to me that my wife has her own Higher Power, and it’s not me. I was not responsible for her recovery.

Grain growers, distilleries, breweries, the corner convenience store… none are responsible for Mrs. P’s alcoholism. Colombian farmers, Chapo Guzman, small time pot salesmen are not the “higher power” of the world’s most powerful nation.  Or, at least they shouldn’t be.  They are not responsible for the U.S. national addiction.

Should we, in Latin America, be doing anything other than perhaps showing our concern for the still suffering addict among the family of nations?  Perhaps we need to reign in our unlicensed agricultural exporters, perhaps not (what other source of rural development funds are there?).  Whatever Latin American nations do or do not do , they are not responsible for the recovery of the United States.

The United States may not want to recover… and that’s its right. But — then — the best thing to do is let it “experience the consequences” of its own actions. The choice for Latin America is simple. Continue to act as the proxy… or rather… co-dependent of the big addict, or force the addict to clean up their own messes. If that means letting the gangsters kill police chiefs in Phoenix and Detroit and Des Moines or lobbing disembodied heads into CNN headquarters… all the better.

Just don’t expect Mexico… or Colombia, or Bolivia, or anywhere else, to take responsibility for the problem.  Or continue paying the price.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. 10 March 2009 7:38 pm

    It never ceases to amaze me, the double standards that prevail. Is the problem EVER the cocaine addict with his crackpipe, his needle, or his powdery nostrils? NO! Always, it’s the little campesino down in Bolivia growing coca without ever seeing a gram of cocaine in his life who’s the “real” problem, and who has to be wiped out (and yes, I mean HIM–if you wipe out his coca crop, you wipe out his means of survival. Not much else currently pays a living wage for farmers down there, thanks to neoliberal banana republicanism.)

    If they’re really serious about combatting drug abuse in the States, they need to set up free clinics in every city. Maybe even every neighborhood.

    And it wouldn’t hurt if they’d crack down on their very lucrative prescription drug industry and its TV advertising, either. After tobacco and alcohol, the most common form of drug addiction is to prescription meds.

    But of course, that would never occur to them; that would curtail capitalism!

  2. 11 March 2009 5:57 am

    It’s about time people seriously looked at the legalisation of all drugs along the lines of tobacco and alcohol.

  3. Coyoteville permalink
    11 March 2009 5:16 pm

    Great Post! I really like the framing of the issue.

    Out of curiosity, where in the “New York State wine country” did you grow up? I live halfway between Cayuga and Seneca Lakes.

  4. trademan permalink
    12 March 2009 12:44 pm

    thank you for your wonderful insight.


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