Sunday, August 19, 2007

Drug Wars V

Another Plan Columbia

MEXICO CITY, Aug. 7 -- The Bush administration is close to sealing a major, multiyear aid deal to combat drug cartels in Mexico that would be the biggest U.S. anti-narcotics effort abroad since a seven-year, $5 billion program in Colombia, according to U.S. lawmakers, congressional aides and Mexican authorities.[1]

After 36 years of the “War on Drugs” and billions of dollars can someone tell me what the purpose of this war is? As much as I try to comprehend its purpose I just don’t get it. The quantity and purity of illegal drugs is higher than they’ve ever been. The price of illegal drugs is the lowest in history and yet this farce continues. The body count on American streets continues to escalate due to the illegal drug trade and we continue to blindly follow an ineffective, punitive policy that has done little to stem the tide of this epidemic.

Now in an effort to help Mexico rein in its drug cartels we are negotiating a deal to send them 5 billion dollars am I the only one that thinks there is something wrong here? I won’t bore you with a laundry list of all the underfunded and admirable programs we could fund with 5 billion dollars. Instead we continue to throw money at a criminal solution to a public health problem.

News Flash- People take drugs because either it makes them feel good or it provides an escape from our screwed up world, no amount of law enforcement can change that. Unless we are willing to lock up every drug user in America, we have to develop another strategy to this issue. I’m sorry does anyone here remember Prohibition and how well that worked? I am not writing these posts because I like or condone the use of drugs. I have seen the ugly side of addiction and continue to see it daily during my volunteer work for my Church. I know firsthand the dangers and pitfalls of drug abuse, but I also know the limits to trying legislate human conduct.

The original Plan Columbia was an idea formulated by President Andres Pastrana of Columbia as an aid package to help revitalize the Columbia economy. He believed that the illicit drug trade in Colombia was a social issue due to the extreme poverty of his countrymen. He surmised that the reason they harvested the illegal drugs was because they couldn’t make a living wage anyway else. Wow, what a novel concept! To show you how this country can take a perfectly good and just cause and twist it to meet our political objectives, the Clinton Administration decided that to win points back home with “get tough on crime crowd” completely rewrote the policy to change it from social development to a law enforcement plan.

The final version of Plan Colombia was seen as considerably different, since its main focuses would deal with drug trafficking and strengthening the military. Ambassador Robert White stated: "If you read the original Plan Colombia, not the one that was written in Washington but the original Plan Colombia, there's no mention of military drives against the FARC rebels. Quite the contrary. (President Pastrana ) says the FARC is part of the history of Colombia and a historical phenomenon, he says, and they must be treated as Colombians...[Colombia] come and ask for bread and you (America) give them stones." In the final U.S. aid package, 78.12 percent of the funds for 2000 went to the Colombian military and police for counternarcotics and military operations.[2]

The Columbians ask us for bread and we give them guns and bombs. Rather than helping them to reform their economy and help them prepare for the future, we provide them with more ammo to maintain the status quo. I hope the Mexicans are students of history, because this Plan Mexico is appearing a lot like the Plan Columbia. While it will score political points for both the Mexican government and the Americans it will do little to correct the real problems affecting the people of Mexico. The immigrants coming from Mexico are not coming here to escape the druglords; they are coming here to escape the economic poverty that has forced the poor into the arms of the drug smugglers.

Instead of arming these governments to the teeth, maybe we could actually send them some aid to help revitalize their ailing economies. No, that would mean they wouldn’t have to come to America and work for less than minimum wage picking fruit and butchering our cattle. For decades we have undermined the laborers and peasant farmers of these nations, we have supported corrupt dictator after dictator. It is time to provide these people with a true way to stop supporting the drug cartels by providing them with an honest price for their crops and an honest job to work. Until we do this, people will continue to make a living the best way they can.



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