On Wednesday afternoon, thousands of Mexican citizens will take to the streets to demand “an end to the violence” wrought by the so-called “war on drugs.”
They have been convened by journalist and poet Javier Sicilia, who last week suffered the criminal assassinations of his son, and friends of his son, who he had watched grow up – to demand “not one more child, one more son, assassinated.”
Javier Sicilia is a decent man, an excellent journalist, and a wonderful poet. I met him ten years ago over lunch on the roadside between Cartuchos and Cuernavaca, back when this publication was being sued by the National Bank of Mexico – BANAMEX – for exposing narco-trafficking on the properties of Mexico’s richest banker. For many years, Javier’s weekly column in the national Proceso magazine ended with the phrase: “Además, opino que hay que cumplir con los acuerdos de San Andrés.” (“What’s more, we have to comply with the San Andrés Peace Accord,” which the Mexican government had signed in 1996 with the indigenous Zapatistas of Chiapas but had never complied with its measures.) So you can see that in addition to everything else good and decent about Javier, he has spent his years caring deeply about others, trying to fix injustices that harmed others.
Today, the injustice has been committed against Javier, his family, his friends, his entire city of Cuernavaca, his entire country of Mexico, his entire planet of earth. It is an injustice repeated again and again, every day, against people and families and cities and countries not everyone has heard about.
And the injustice is this: That the United States has imposed a “war on drugs” on other countries, even though its citizens are the biggest consumers of illegal drugs in the world: a policy called prohibition. That policy didn’t function from 1919 to 1933, when it was repealed, under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, because the violence that always happens when people’s vices and pleasures are made illegal swept the cities and communities of the United States, and created tens of thousands of Javiers there. And the American people rose up and demanded an end to it.
Now we have a new prohibition, against different drugs, but it causes the same violence, and Mexican men, women, children and elders bear the brunt of it even more than US citizens do (although they suffer for it, plenty, too), for the simple error of geography that the coca plant grows only in South America and it goes up the noses and crack pipes of the gringos as cocaine in the United States. And Mexico is caught in the middle, through no fault of its own: it is the straw between the coca plant and the gringo’s nose. And more than 40,000 Mexican families have suffered, as a result, in only four years, the injustice of parents burying their children that Javier Sicilia suffers this week. Listen to Javier:
“What I do wish to say to you today from these mutilated lives, from the pain that has no name because it is fruit of something that does not belong in nature – the death of a child is always unnatural and that’s why it has no name: I don’t know if it is orphan or widow, but it is simply and painfully nothing – from these, I repeat, mutilated lives, from this suffering, from the indignation that these deaths have provoked, it is simply that we have had it up to here.”
For fourteen years, since I arrived in Mexico, I have heard too many of these stories from broken mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, husbands, wives, grandparents, grandchildren, from decent people, from good people, whose misfortune was to be caught as innocents in somebody else’s crime, a crime created by a government policy.
And as a student of history I can tell you all: Once upon a time there was a people who rose up against a prohibition that had done the same to them. And it was the citizens of the United States, when they had suffered the violence of alcohol prohibition too much and finally cried out, “we have had it up to here!”
As Javier wrote so eloquently:
“We have had it up to here because the corruption of the judicial institutions generates the complicity with crime and the impunity to commit it, because in the middle of that corruption that demonstrates the failure of the State, each citizen of this country has been reduced to what the philosopher Giorgio Agamben called, using a Greek word, “zoe”: an unprotected life, the life of an animal, of a being that can be violated, kidnapped, molested and assassinated with impunity. We have had it up to here because you only have imagination for violence, for weapons, for insults…”
We are all told that Mexico is a “democracy” where the people decide. Nobody believes it, but some say it nonetheless.
And I am left with just one question: If the people of the United States once rose up and demanded, and won, the end of a senseless, stupid, violent, corrupt, criminal prohibition against a “drug” that is, today and for the last 68 years, peacefully regulated and consumed and sold without violence between its sellers, without corrupting police, judges, politicians and presidents, without censoring newspapers and assassinating journalists and community organizers and defenders of human rights… If the gringos could repeal such a violent policy that caused such harm against them… then why not Mexico?
See you in the streets on Wednesday at 5 p.m. We will be there to report it. What you decide to do is up to you. But if there is one thing I have learned in fourteen (really, 24, counting my first voyage) years since arriving in Mexico, it is this: The Mexican people have more power than you know. And one day you are going to use it. If Wednesday is not that day, it will be another day, maybe sooner than anyone thinks. But it also occurs to me that, like with Egypt on January 25, it is not so impossible that Wednesday could be the start of something big…
Publisher, Narco News
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