cannabisnews.com: Ignoring Mexico's Drug Problem





Ignoring Mexico's Drug Problem
Posted by FoM on March 12, 2000 at 11:39:44 PT
Opinion By Rick Rockwell
Source: SunSpot
Policy: The Clinton administration overlooks the fact that in the war on drugs south of the border, the drugs appear to be winning. Close your eyes, and you can hear the message in the media. You've heard the words: peace, prosperity, promise. Now try these: deception, drugs, death. 
Is it any wonder politicians and pundits are ignoring one of the most insidious problems that will face the next president just assuredly as it has faced presidents for the past 25 years? The issue: a losing effort in the war on drugs south of the border. In a move that was little noticed, the Clinton administration acted this month to reaffirm U.S. strategy in anti-drug efforts with Mexico. The process is called certification. The president is required by law to certify to Congress that Mexico (along with 25 other nations) is cooperating in the drug war. Decertification would mean restrictions on U.S. assistance and economic sanctions. The administration's report noted that Mexico's overall anti-drug performance has not improved, but the country was still certified. This year, as in most years, when Mexico was certified, Republicans led by Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina protested. They fired off a letter to Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright. The letter noted, "There has been no major progress in uprooting the drug cartels that do business with virtual impunity in Mexico." Just before certification, the U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Jeffrey Davidow, seemed to agree with the critics. During an unguarded moment while speaking in Mexico City to alumni of the University of Southern California, the ambassador said, "The fact is that the headquarters of the drug-trafficking world are now in Mexico. Just as the headquarters, the main base, of the Mafia was in Sicily, now the main bases of drug traffickers are in other countries, and Mexico is one of them." Mexican politicians and newspapers expressed shock and disappointment with the ambassador's frank words. Isn't the United States responsible for its drug habits? Feeding the United States' enormous illegal drug appetite -- estimated at $57 billion by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) --keeps the cartels in business. The government's certification report admits that as much as 60 percent of the cocaine from South America flowing into the United States is routed through Mexico. So, at some point, these illegal shipments are supervised by the powerful Mexican cartels. Despite an internecine gang war, the cartels have grown more powerful in the past decade. The Tijuana cartel assassinated that border city's police chief less than a week before certification. The hit occurred on the highway where gunmen from the cartel assassinated another Tijuana police chief six years ago. The latest demonstration of violence by the cartels is just one of a string of hits aimed at law enforcement officials, prosecutors and journalists stretching back at least a decade. As the saying goes in Mexico, people have two choices: plata or plomo, silver or lead. Those unwilling to take a bribe from the cartels end up with a bullet instead. Not surprisingly, last year's certification report noted the existence of "persistent levels of corruption" in the Mexican government. However, Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo has made fighting corruption and drug trafficking a centerpiece of his administration. As Gen. Barry McCaffrey, the White House drug czar, likes to point out, despite corruption, Mexico is investing $1 billion in its anti-narcotics fight. The debate over certification comes at a delicate time. Virtually unnoticed in the United States, Mexico also is preparing for presidential elections this year. The ruling party, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (or PRI, by its Spanish acronym), which has ruled the country for more than 70 years, faces a tough challenge from opposition forces. Still, the status quo looks to be headed toward another victory. Decertification might have an impact on that process and would hurt U.S.-Mexican relations. In a country where politicians and patriots still remind the populace about a war lost to the United States 150 years ago, pointed criticism of Mexico's problems with drugs and corruption could also curdle strategic business relationships. What Mexicans resent is not only that certification is insulting and demeaning, but also that it is a modern version of Uncle Sam's economic big stick at work in Latin America. The political and economic aftershocks of decertification in Colombia during the 1990s serve as stark examples for nations that might want to ignore the process. Certification is another example of the Clinton era's go-along-to-get-along foreign policy, as opposed to bold strokes. The boldest stroke would be to kill the meaningless and divisive certification process altogether. For all the Republican invective that is part of the process, Congress is unlikely to overturn the president's certification before the April 1 deadline. Attempts at doing so have failed in the past. Both McCaffrey and Albright support abolishing the current certification system, substituting it with a multinational review of anti-narcotics efforts overseen by the Organization of American States. But the likelihood of that happening during this lame-duck year for the Clinton administration seems remote. What's left are the euphemisms of the certification system and attempts at salving diplomatic wounds. "There is no option but to certify Mexico," said Bob Weiner, spokesman for McCaffrey's ONDCP. "We can't just damn them for everything that goes wrong." During the Reagan era, Deane Hinton, who was the U.S. ambassador to El Salvador, called certification "a political cop-out by a lot of congressmen." Hinton was speaking about a different type of certification, which said El Salvador's government respected human rights during its civil war despite obvious evidence of atrocities. Now we have another version of certification. The government tells us that all is well in the war on drugs. Don't worry. Never mind that drug trafficking is the fuel for many other crimes. Never mind that the drug cartels are gaining the upper hand in Mexico. Even the Mexicans want us to ignore the facts and get on with business. This begs the question: Wouldn't it be better to eliminate this mealy-mouthed political process and just face the truth? Rick Rockwell teaches journalism at American University. He is a contributor to the new book: "Mexico: Facing the Challenges of Human Rights and Crime." Published: March 12, 2000SunSpot is Copyright  2000 Related Articles:Mexico Beefs Up Fight Against Drugshttp://www.cannabisnews.com/news/thread4498.shtmlMexico Hails Its Progress in Battling Drugs http://www.cannabisnews.com/news/thread4494.shtmlValley Of Death - Time Magazine http://www.cannabisnews.com/news/thread3977.shtml 
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Comment #1 posted by legalizeit on March 12, 2000 at 21:44:35 PT
Certify this!!
>Now try these: deception, drugs, death. All a result of the idiotic war on drugs.>The issue: a losing effort in the war on drugs south of the border.You're not fooling us. The real issue: The war on drugs is more than a losing effort, it is a total failure, and on all sides of all borders it's being fought on.Prohibition of anything in demand brings nothing but corruption, booming business in organized crime, and increased police-state mentality.>The ruling party, the Institutional Revolutionary Party (or PRI, by its Spanish acronym), which has ruled the country for more than 70 years, faces a tough challenge from opposition forces. Still, the status quo looks to beheaded toward another victory. Unfortunately, it's the same north of the border - looks like the Republi-(Hypo)-Crats will be stuffing anti-drug crap down our throats for another four years.>"There is no option but to certify Mexico," said Bob Weiner, spokesman for McCaffrey's ONDCP. "We can't just damn them for everything that goes wrong."But you can damn yourselves, O loyal Drug Warriors. You are fully responsible for everything that goes wrong in the worthless war you are merciliessly prolonging.>This begs the question: Wouldn't it be better to eliminate this mealy-mouthed political process and just face the truth? Amen!! Only this journalist's view of "the truth" is quite wide of the mark. The fact that he's TEACHING journalism really scares me. If he brainwashes his students into thinking that short-sighted tripe like this is "good journalism", we are only going to get more of the same in the future.
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