MEXICO CITY - On June 17, 1971, President Richard Nixon stood in front
of the White House press corps and made his historic declaration of a
new type of war. "Public Enemy No. 1 in the United States is drug
abuse," he said. "In order to fight and defeat this enemy, it's
necessary to wage a new all-out offensive."
It would be a government-wide effort, and rally the United States's
power abroad to stem the supply of drugs. Among the countries targeted
was Mexico, which was home to abundant marijuana production and had
been resistant to aerial crop spraying.
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SAN MIGUEL AMOLTEPEC VIEJO, Mexico - For years, two young brothers,
like many other farmers in their poor, mountainous region of southwest
Mexico, found salvation in the opium poppy. They bled the milky latex
from its pods and the profits made their hard lives a little easier.
The fact that this substance was the raw material for most of the
heroin consumed in the United States was of little concern to the
family, if they even knew it at all. But then changes in that distant
market for illegal drugs made the price of the dried opium latex plummet.
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