Monday, May 21, 2012

Images of the violence in Mexico -- What do they mean? What do comments about them mean?

The Atlantic's In Focus blog has a vivid photo essay of the drug organization related violence in Mexico. Since December 2006, on the order of 50,000 have been killed, according to the Mexican government and news media tabulators, in the the varieties of conflict around the illegal drug trade and its suppression.

What is the killing about?

Criminal organizations are killing police, prosecutors, judges, military, government officials, and candidates for office, as well as ordinary citizens to maintain their impunity for their criminal activities, to enhance their reputations for violence and to enforce their threats. Within the organizations, people are killed if they are suspected government informants, suspected allies of competitors, suspected thieves, or suspected rivals for succession. Between the organizations, people are killed because they are suspected of being members of rival organizations for power and control over markets and traffic routes. The government forces and trafficking organizations engage in shoot outs and kill suspected criminals. Potential witnesses, including journalists are being killed. Corrupt law enforcement officers kill on orders, for pay, and to protect against exposure. Law obeying law enforcement officers kill in self-defense. How many non-drug related intentional homicides are "packaged" to look like drug war related killings to throw off suspicion?

There are extensive comments posted at the blog. Yes, drug prohibition policy drives up the value of these drugs. Yes, consumers of drugs worldwide have a share of the culpability. No one is excused.

Two things strike me about the comments (and this is in common with comments following news and commentary everywhere on the Internet): The analyses are usually simplistic on all sides. And among those who write anonymous comments there is profound indifference to the lives and dignity of drug users. Calls to execute large classes of people are made passionately.

Perhaps this style of communication pervades the world of on-line comment, regardless of the subject.

Does this superficiality and cruelty reflect a political and cultural reality that has a significant impact, or reflects commonplace prejudices that play out in the actual resolution of policy in Congress, state legislatures, county and municipal boards, and the confidential meetings of bureaucrats and police leaders in departments and agencies around the nation?

I fear so. Thinking about superficiality, consider this report from the Sunlight Foundation on the complexity of communications by Members of the U.S. Congress.

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1 comment:

ChristMotForbud said...

There are extensive comments posted at the blog. Yes, drug prohibition policy drives up the value of these drugs. Yes, consumers of drugs worldwide have a share of the culpability. No one is excused.

I definitely don’t mean this as a personal attack since I have a lot of respect for you.

But I reject the premise that consumers of drugs hold any of the responsibility for the bloody mess.

1) When heroin was on drug store shelves, how many stabbings, beheadings, shootings, etc… were there to get some or supply it? When opium could be had at a reasonable price at a variety of places, how many gangs killed each other, cops, and/or innocents to provide it?

2) Before alcohol prohibition was there violence to provide it to consumers? During alcohol prohibition was there violence to provide it? After alcohol prohibition thankfully ended was there violence to provide it to those who chose to drink it?

3) Even if every current drug user stopped using drugs (which we know will not happen), it would not stop those who produce them or ship them. There is too much money to be made, they will do what they have been doing, find new customers. And it merely shows a complete break with reality (ahem DFA) to think that they will not find any new users, or to think (or allow) the DFA & DEA types can just create enough shame and terror and threats and urine containers to scare everyone away.

4) (related to #3) The human animal, like cats, and all animals, self medicate; and I mean that in the sterile medical sense, not in an insulting or derogatory way.

5) Our govt. (perhaps all govts) is complicit in trafficking & dealing. CIA Station Chief John Stockwell has compelling testimony. And what about the myriad horror stories (just those we know about, not including the ones that have yet to come to light) where our govt. does what it says it hates in a supposed effort to stop what they say it hates? Like putting undercover agents out there to deal drugs? Then shooting some 80 year old guy who tells them to get off his lawn! EVIL HYPOCRISY!

6) Govts have been infiltrated with the trafficking organizations. And those trafficking organizations are not really fond of each other.

100% of the violence is due to prohibition courtesy of the prohibitionists.

When one turns off the heat from under the pot, the water continues to boil for a short time afterward. This is part of why I think we need a limited-time “buy back” strategy to help get drugs out of the underground market timed with the introduction of legalization/regulation.