Pubdate: Sun, 04 Apr 2010
Source: Minnesota Daily (U of MN,  Minneapolis, MN Edu)
Contact:  2010 Minnesota Daily
Author: Juan Medina Bielski


Legalization of Drugs Is the Only Solution to an Out-Of-Hand Problem.

I was astonished by yesterday's letter to the editor "Illegal drugs
don't make the criminal." This is an extremely misled and perverted
view on our war on drugs.

The author slanders Mexicans and skews reality with factoids such as
"these people were violent, murderous psychopaths independent of (and
before) entering the drug trade." How well does he know these people?

This makes the border violence seem irrational and unstoppable. "Plata
or plomo" (in English "silver or lead") is the slogan of the drug
cartels. This means that to maintain power, cartels bribe politicians
and police, and if that fails, they remove their obstruction via
assassination. How can you arrest all the instigators of the violence
when they themselves are the puppetmasters manipulating a marionette

Many police and politicians themselves are members of these criminal
organizations. Why? Money. Even an honest attempt at eradicating the
drug trade only escalates violence; since Felipe Calderon took office
in 2006 and shortly thereafter began a U.S.-backed military offensive
on cartels, there have been an estimated 22,700 casualties in Mexico.

The author claims "a lucrative illegal drug trade does not make drug
dealers violent." This is a misinterpretation of the situation. "Drug
dealers" is not a suitable term for those who commit this violence.

These are not salesmen on the corner robbing and fighting each other
and clients. The violence is not landing on just police and
politicians; control of the finite border is very valuable to the
cartels; thus, there is a power struggle -- a turf war -- and
unfortunately many innocent people get caught in the middle. The men
with guns are henchmen and mercenaries of the cartels who are paid
specifically to carry out tasks like assassinations.

Some may indeed be deranged psychopaths, but they don't simply kill
for sport or because they are crazy. They kill because they make more
money doing that than any other job for an uneducated individual in
the third world. If a hit man is killed or arrested, five more
impoverished Mexicans are ready to accept the job. They aren't insane;
they are hungry and their kids are hungry.

Proverbially, "money is the root of all evil," and money indeed drives
drug violence. The author also claims "the best solution is
incarcerating the violent, murderous psychopathic felons who are
willing to kill or kidnap to make a profit." This "best" solution is
not even logical; it's like mopping the floor while the faucet's still

Just turn the water off. We need to turn the cash flow off. This money
comes from a variety of sources, including prostitution, racketeering,
theft, kidnapping and of course drug trafficking. However, over 60
percent of the estimated $13.8 billion raked in by Mexican cartels in
2006 came from cannabis sales alone. This drug is safer than alcohol
and tobacco, yet its prohibition is destroying Mexico. America
consumes more drugs than any other country, and thus America's
insatiable appetite for drugs fuels the violence.

A March 2009 report, "The Incarceration of Drug Offenders: An Overview,"
published by the Beckley Foundation Drug Policy Programme analyzes
worldwide drug and crime policy and statistics and concludes: "Given the
significant costs of incarceration as a way of reducing drug problems,
(in budget terms, but also in terms of the negative impact on community
relations, social cohesion and public health), it is hard to justify a
drug policy approach that prioritises widespread arrest and harsh
penalties for drug users on grounds of effectiveness."

The report details how America incarcerates its own people more than
any other country, and 53 percent of federal inmates are in for drug
charges (19.5 percent at the state level). Obviously the current
technique doesn't work. To diffuse the violence, we need to end the
war on drugs. Legalization would take control of drugs and their
related profits out of the hands of violent criminals and put it into
the hands of responsible businesses and government regulation.

Juan Medina Bielski

University undergraduate student

Students for a Sensible Drug Policy 
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