Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Movement for Peace Marches On Against the Drug War

By Bill Conroy, Narco News

The one-year anniversary of the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity, a grassroots groundswell against the drug war, played out March 28 in a small plaza in the Mexican city of Cuernavaca, just south of Mexico City — absent the cameras and pens of the mainstream media.

What took place that day and during the day prior to the Movement event, both in spoken words and displayed emotions, pushed back hard against both US and Mexican interests that continue to perpetuate the carnage of the war on drugs. The flow of weapons from the US south into Mexico and the seemingly insatiable demand for the drugs flowing north into the US — both fueling misery, bloodshed and a major human exodus from Mexico — were all brought into sharp focus by this Movement gathering.

For Mexico, this war on drugs, since Mexican President Felipe Calderon escalated it beginning in late 2006, has cost some 65,000 lives, though the true number is an ever-growing figure that evades precise measurement and doesn’t even include the thousands of disappeared. In the US, the number of homicides attributable to the drug war is not even tracked systematically, as a recent Narco News story exposed, but the knowable murder tally between 2006 and 2010, based on FBI crime figures, (and representing a considerable undercount) is an average of 1,100 a year.

And then there is another class of victims, the hundreds of thousands of Mexicans who have crossed the border into the US over the past five years (adding to the millions of people now living in the US without the proper paperwork) in search of work and a safe harbor from the violence of Mexico’s drug war — violence, in the form of not only murder but also robbery, extortion, kidnappings and sexual exploitation, that has disappeared not only people but jobs.

[ ... ]

And because I cover this drug war, have for some eight years for Narco News, I know all too well the genesis of this pain, and to no small degree it traces back to US consumer habits and government policy — as we are the major consumers of the drugs coming north and our government and private companies are the major exporters of the weapons going south — the munitions, guns and bullets arming all sides of the failed, bloody drug war.

Here’s a small taste of that shipping agenda:

• Under the State Department’s Direct Commercial Sales program, which authorizes weapons sales by private US companies to overseas buyers, such as the Mexican military, some $85.2 million in arms were shipped to Mexico in fiscal 2010 alone.

U.S. private-sector suppliers, via the DCS program, doubled that mark in fiscal 2009, shipping to Mexico a total of $177 million worth of defense articles — which includes items like military aircraft, firearms and explosives.

By comparison, in fiscal 2009, private arms companies in the U.S. shipped $40 million worth of weapons to Afghanistan; $126 million to Iraq; and $131 million to Israel.

• A 2011 report prepared for the US Senate Committee on Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs found “that from 2005 to 2009, the federal government’s annual spending on counternarcotics contracts in Latin America rose by 32%, from $482 million in 2005 to $635.8 million in 2009. In total, the government spent more than $3.1 billion on counternarcotics contracts during this period. …"

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Happy Birthday to the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity

Last week, the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity celebrated its first anniversary. In this video birthday card produced by scholars of the 2012 School of Authentic Journalism, voices from throughout the world wish the movement good luck in its continued struggle to end the War on Drugs.

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