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Living by the golden rule

4 September 2010

Frank Hall, former head of the New York police narcotics squad, once said, “If imported cocaine were to disappear, in two months it would be replaced by synthetic drugs.” Common-sensical as that might seem, the fight against the Latin American sources of evil continues because it offers the best cover for maintaining military and, to a large degree, political control over the region.

Eduardo Galeano, Upside Down:  A primer for the looking-glass world (1988)

Somewhat in the spirit of Galeano’s hit-and-run style, let me present three recent scenes from the “war on drugs.”

  • News reports in both the United States and Mexico trumpeted the State Department’s recommendation to withhold fifteen percent of promised Mérida Initiative funding — 26 million dollars — because of human rights concerns.

The Obama administration is considering a substantial spending increase on the Mexican drug war, the latest sign of its growing concern about the rampant violence incited by narcotics cartels in Mexico.

Administration officials said internal debate on the issue continues, and they are not yet at a point where they can estimate how much of an increase may be requested.

It would be too perfect if the requested increase was … say… 26 million dollars, but what does it really matter?  One way or another, the United States — which needs the narcotics — is going to punish Latin Americans for supplying what they cannot control economically.  One of my “cyber friends” (not someone I know in real life, only through his virtual existence) was rather taken aback when I asked whether extraditing Valdez was really a form of “justice.”  I was speaking philosophically, and understand that the guy’s “real life” is in Nuevo Laredo, so he doesn’t permit himself the luxury of these kinds of speculations — Eddie Valdez is a local baddie, and the sooner he’s behind bars (and securely behind bars), the better for him.  Fair enough.

With our imperfect justice system and a history of so-called “drug lords” continuing to operate their businesses even while in prison — my friend’s argument for extraditing Valdez comes down to the assumption that the United States has “better” prisons and is more likely to put Valdez into one of them.  True enough, but the crimes for which Valdez was arrested were committed in Mexico, and he was arrested by Mexican police for those crimes.  That people were also killed in the United States (directly or otherwise) by Valdez may be true, but he’s charged there with narcotics trafficking (basically an economic crime) and here, the charges will be more things like murder, kidnapping (crimes against persons) and using weapons reserved for the use of the military (crimes against the State).  And, narcotics trafficking, which here is a crime against public health… crimes that affect us as social beings, not as economic units.

But, he who has the gold, makes the rules.  One wonders if OUR crime (and our suffering) isn’t our punishment for not turning over control of this economic sector to the United States.  They pay us to stomp out the drug trade… but then find a rationale to control HOW we do it (but want to up the funding anyway) and — when we bring one of the prizes to bay (and bring him in alive), we’re told we can’t keep our prize, but have to turn him over to our financial (and military) controller.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 4 September 2010 7:33 am

    This is all too true and all too upsetting. What to do, what to do?

  2. steve permalink
    4 September 2010 12:41 pm

    You really trust the Mexican prison system to keep him IN?

    I’d bet he’d either be
    found dead in a week, so he does not get the chance to sing,
    or he’d be out… hiding in some laundry bin in the back of a truck.

    Yes, there are escapes from US prisons, and bribery, but it is not the
    routine practice. Keep him here for nationalistic reasons, but don’t expect
    he’ll be in very long.

    (of course it is hypocritical of the US to want him, as it also demands huge amounts of
    the drugs he helps supply… I did not have an opinion about any of this until last year when we were
    ‘express kidnapped’ outside Monterrey, and held for maybe four hours, and threatened with death,
    in an abandoned tow-yard. Basically it ruined Mexico for me. However I am still here.)

    Trickle-down crime. From the drug trade to the kidnappinngs, to the human trafickking, highway theft of vehicles, and finally the $2,000 mordida and the freaked out gringo tourists or rentistas.

    The Government and the Federal police NEED to continually embarassed, worldwide, until
    things improve. Sending this guy to another country would show a lack of confidence
    in Mexico’s system of justice. (I know, that would be just terrible !)

    Of course we could always send him to a prison in an opposing-cartel state, for some good old-fashioned rough justice. But I’d bet he might prefer being made someone’s girlfriend
    in a Texas pennitentary…

    Sorry, I’m a little cranky this morning. Those “Raid” mosquito plaquitas are beginning to
    make me hallucinate. I’ve got five of them burning throughout the house.

    sr

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