Al Giordano wrote 7 April 2011, And This Is What History Looks Like in Mexico
Yesterday, multitudes took to the streets in more than 40 Mexican cities – and in protests by Mexicans and their friends at consulates and embassies in Europe, North America and South America – to demand an end to the violence wrought by the US-imposed “war on drugs.”
What? You haven’t heard about this? Or if you have heard something about it, did you know that it is the biggest news story in the Mexican media, on the front page of virtually every daily newspaper in the country?
A sea change has occurred in Mexican public opinion. The people have turned definitively against the use of the Mexican Army to combat against drug traffickers. The cry from every city square yesterday was for the Army to return to its barracks and go back to doing the job it was formed to do; protect Mexico from foreign invasion and provide human aid relief in case of natural disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes. Since President Felipe Calderón unleashed the Armed Forces, four years ago, to combat drug trafficking organizations, the violence between it and the competing narco organizations has led to a daily body count, widespread human rights abuses against civilians, and more than 40,000 deaths, so many of them of innocent civilians caught in the crossfire and used by all sides in the armed conflict that still has no winners, that never will have any winner.
What woke up the people of Mexico, or, rather, who?
A fast moving series of events that began on March 28 have converged to usher Mexico into its very own “Arab spring.” And it began just outside “the City of Eternal Spring,” Cuernavaca, in the state of Morelos, about an hour south of Mexico City. Narco News has been covering these events for the past week (sadly, we are so far the only English-language media to do so at each step of the story, even as it has huge consequences for United States drug policy not only in Mexico but throughout the world and at home). On that date, in the town of Temixco, seven young men were assassinated. These were kids with jobs, who went to school, model kids, not criminals. And one of those kids, Juan Francisco Silvia, was the son of a nationally respected journalist and poet, Javier Sicilia, of Cuernavaca.No mas Guerra de las Drogas!
In a week, the soft spoken, increasingly beloved, intellectual has become the national vessel through which millions of voices now demand: End the war on drugs.
What does this have to do with us? Former Mexican President Vicente Fox explained that the same day at a conference in the U.S.:
Legalization of drugs in Mexico would not only lead to lowered violence and drug consumption but also boost its economy.We don’t need a private prison in Lowndes County. We need an end to the so-called War on Drugs that has given our 5% of the world’s population 25% of its prisoners. We need education, not incarceration.