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Responding to death without leading to more

As you may be aware already, Special Agent Jaime Zapata, an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agent was killed in Mexico. It’s a tragedy, of course, and it was murder, which is reprehensible, and I would like very much for those who committed the murder to be brought to justice.

On the other hand, it’s important to remember that over 30,000 others have been killed in this drug war in Mexico, and important to avoid making wrong conclusions and bad policy based on the tragedy of a death.

In 1985, Drug Enforcement Administration agent Kiki Camarena was kidnapped and killed by drug traffickers. That was also a tragedy. It was turned into an annual celebration of the drug war (and a fictional “Drug Free Youth” called Red Ribbon Week, promoted heavily by the DEA.

The tragedy of one man’s death, instead of making us reevaluate the policies that led to it, led to cheering on those same destructive policies.

We face the danger again with the death of Jaime Zapata. Already, some are quickly finding the wrong lessons, and beating the drums of ratcheting up the very drug war that fueled this violence…

Security Advocates Call for Greater Offensive Against Mexico Cartels After Murder of ICE Agent

Advocates for stronger border security on Wednesday called for stepping up the U.S. offensive to stop murderous drug cartels terrorizing Mexico after an Immigrations and Customs Enforcement agent was killed a day earlier.

“This tragic event is a game changer. The United States will not tolerate acts of violence against its citizens or law enforcement and I believe we must respond forcefully. This should be a long overdue wake-up call for the Obama administration that there is a war on our nation’s doorstep,” said Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas.

U.S. Govt. Hopes Agents Death Leads to Changes

some are predicting the brutal ambush of two ICE agents in Mexico, will change the way U.S. law enforcement operates in Mexico, possibly allowing agents to carry weapons across the border. And those familiar with the drug war say changes will be vital, because it looks like the cartels won’t be falling anytime soon. […]

Mayor Raul Salinas says he strongly supports attorney general Eric Holder’s suggestion to ask Mexico’s government to consider allowing U.S. agents serving in dangerous territory to carry weapons.

ICE Agent Zapata’s Murder Deepens U.S. Involvement in Mexico’s Drug War

Surely, the death of an American official on Mexican soil raises the stakes in the ongoing U.S.–Mexican battle against Mexico’s cartels and criminal organizations. […]

Yet there is fresh concern that help for Mexico will fall victim to the budgetary ax as the Obama Administration moves to cut key security and anti-drug assistance in order to protect domestic pork. [That’s from the Heritage Foundation, which is just fine with securitization pork!]

Fortunately, there are occasional voices of sanity…

Portales, New Mexico, News-Tribune

Let’s hope that reassessment actually takes place. Many questions need to be answered regarding the level of violence in Mexico, and the U.S. involvement that many refuse to recognize. […]

Sadly, people focus on the violence and ignore the cause. Too many Americans refuse to recognize the link between U.S. demand and those in Mexico who are fighting over the supply.

What will it take to convince people that interdiction is a lost cause? Billions of dollars and thousands of lives have been lost, with little effect on the drug trade. Spending even a fraction of that amount on treatment, to lessen the demand, could be a much more effective investment.

Most importantly, what will it take for people to recognize that the drug war itself is a major contributor to all this carnage? We tried the same experiment with alcohol in the 1920s, and saw the same results. Remember Capone, Dillinger and the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre? Today’s crime in the streets of Mexico merely echo of what happened in Chicago and other U.S. cities 90 years ago.

Within 15 years of banning alcohol, officials recognized that prohibition itself contributes to the violence by raising the price of the product and ceding control to those who, by definition, are willing to break the law. It didn’t work with alcohol, it isn’t working with other drugs.

What will it take for officials to see the futility of their policies, and replace them with something more sensible?

If we want to provide a legacy to remember Special Agent Jaime Zapata, then let’s do so with policy that will really change the dynamic in this war.

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22 comments to Responding to death without leading to more

  • claygooding

    They never will get it,until the citizens shut them down or end prohibition one state at a time.
    As Clinton said recently,”There is just too much money in it to stop it.”
    Too much money in the market,too much money for fighting it.
    And the rich harvesting it from both ends.

  • ezrydn

    As I started reading this post, I was hit by “The United States will not tolerate acts of violence against its citizens…” and wanted to ballbat someone. Don’t these loons know it’s happening every day in the United States? It’s called SWAT actions!

    It’s like the US is saying “leave our slaves alone. Go pick on your own slaves.” If that’s their arguement, they’ve lost and don’t know it.

    • This is not my America

      There it is. They stuck their foot in their mouth .

    • Peter

      It’s not even as though they give a shit about their foot-soldier, the immigration guy…..it just gives them the opportunity to play on fears and emotions to shore-up the prohibitionist agenda. They’re clutching at straws here… expect to see increasingly desperate spin, dog-whistling and co-ordinated message manipulation. Any Jared Lee Loughners, if they can be connected with cannabis in any way, will be presented as the poster-boy for legalisation by the prohib P.R. machine.

  • This is not my America

    Unfortunately, this is no different than Senator Giffords tragic shooting. After the fact they have peep rallies , pat themselves on the back, make laws that criminals WILL NOT follow( The 1000 ft rule). They fail to see what the true problem is…their actions. That nut that shot gifford and others is no different than the nuts that shot the ICE officers.

    When will they see. Government must listen to the people . Do as we will. Forutnately 99% of us dont take to violence to solve problems…but as always…government will use events such as this to empower themselves and remove our rights and freedoms.

    This is why more and more Americans are supporting America for Americans but, not supporting the American Government.

    Will you wait til you fall to hear the voices of the people?

    Secure the borders,end prohibition,stop the corruption, end the flee market sale of this country or..

    We The People will abolish this government and institute a new one for the people by the people of the people.

    This Is Not My America!

  • Paul

    I can’t imagine Mexico cheerfully allowing American agents to routinely carry weapons in Mexico…arrest Mexican citizens, kick down doors, get into fire fights with locals, and so on. No way. They have too much national pride for that.

  • Antifascist

    What’s the big deal? It is a WAR being waged by a fascist government on the people. People get killed in wars. I’m frankly surprised that more fascist government agents aren’t being killed. Looks to me like if just one fascist government agent is killed while 100s of ordinary people are being killed, then the government is winning the war after all. Maybe that’s what they mean when they claim they are winning. They don’t care how many ordinary people get killed, just so long as much less of their own get killed. Fascists should never win a war like this. More fascists need to die before the war will end.

    • hmmm… funny how all that works. Yep, there are testosterone raging government employees that have really bad attitudes, but sometimes one must find themselves in the middle of a big pile of shit to realize that it’s not a positive thing – it’s a pile of shit! – and to realize it really stinks. Celerino Castillo is one agent. And when he figured it out he spoke out. I doubt I would be who and where I am had I not discovered in the middle of helping bomb short brown rice farmers that I didn’t like what I was doing. Since then I’ve never much been a fan of violent human caused death. In fact…

      One thing about non-violent civil disobedience… there is no wiggle room to advocate or condone violence. NVCD has been the most effective means of creating dramatic social change in human history. We’re witnessing it again in N Africa and the Middle East.

      You can do and feel whatever you want but you either should smoke a bowl and think about that or not smoke a bowl and think about that… or… you’re in the wrong place. I don’t appreciate the association of your violent advocacy with this movement.

      • Duncan20903

        One thing about non-violent civil disobedience… there is no wiggle room to advocate or condone violence. NVCD has been the most effective means of creating dramatic social change in human history. We’re witnessing it again in N Africa and the Middle East.

        I thought about what you said all day long Allan, and came to the conclusion that it’s very profound. One can not defend freedom by taking it away from others. One cannot expect equal treatment without treating others as equals. One cannot promote violence in order to eliminate it. Do you recall when Tricky Dick announced that we were dropping bombs on Vietnam to make peace?

        Wars on this, wars on that, I recall one October when the local throwaway asserted that suburban homeowners had declared a “war on fall” by clearing the leaves from their yard. I bullshit you not.

        Do you think we could get the government to start prosecuting a “war on war” or a “war on violence”? It would be the pinnacle of achievement in the world of bureaucratic double speak. It would be the pinnacle of achievement in bureaucratic double speak.

        How about a war on plumber’s crack just to keep them busy? In the alternative, how about a war on bugs? Gosh I hate insects with a passion. If we’re going to engage in futility that’s a great idea. Let’s make the world bug free. If not for ourselves, the for the children. Do you know how many children die or are scarred for life every year because of bugs? Did you know that peer pressure leads school children into actually eating bug? How can anyone be in favor of bug eating children?

  • Balloon Maker

    If only there were MORE guns in Mexico. That would solve everything

  • Balloon Repairman

    And U.S. troops, it would be better with troops. Tanks, airplanes and helicraptors. And bored teenagers in U.S. uniforms all over Mexico with automatic rifles and no understanding of the language or culture. It’s worked so well in the past. Just look at the level of violence in Afghanistan…it’s soooo much lower. (snark-snarky-snark-snark)

  • Servetus

    The government displays its vacuity, and once again the citizens are embarrassed. Its collective body of cloistered bureaucrats has no imagination and no rational solutions to what happens in the drug war in Mexico other than to impose an archaic, medieval statecraft. Re:

    “…a prince ought to have no other aim or thought…than war.”—Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince (1515).

    If the people of an industrialized country such as the United States cannot impose civilization upon their own government’s barbarity, then someone or something outside the United States invariably will. It’s called blowback. As recent experience demonstrates, blowback is something to be avoided.

  • claygooding

    The telling part of our activism in the war in Mexico is that we are paying for both sides.

    We pay our bureaucrats with tax dollars and subsidize the Mexican government with the Merida act,more tax dollars.

    We finance the cartels by being good customers,,,at about 100 times the rate that both governments are spending to end it.

    Wouldn’t those expenditures have to be a lot more equal to win against the cartels.

    I know Mexico would like to be getting 104 billion instead of 1.4 billion and I am sure Kerli would like 1600 billion a year,surely he could waste that also.

    • DdC

      Speak for yourself.
      I don’t smoke NO Mexican dope.
      But I do pay taxes. Maybe I should buy Mexican and stop supporting criminals in the DEAth Cartel. Mexican Cartel’s have never tried to bust me. Or get me fired or stigmatized. No one forces anyone to buy pot. So if anything Cartel’s are public servants. Same as growers in the states. Now when they get all defensive we’re supposed to roll over? The politikans and their pet pigs started the war. Now that it produces casualties it is somehow Mexico’s fault? We have casualties too. Not that the cops will ever find the guilty. I doubt if they ever even investigated. Both borders cower to the US, afraid of losing trade agreements or welfare. Both countries tried to free themselves from under the thumb of the drug war and both were scolded and sent to bed without supper. If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.
      Viva Sativa!

      Ganjawar Puppets Cave… again
      After intense pressure from the United States, President Vicente Fox has asked Congress to reconsider a law it passed last week that would decriminalize the possession of small amounts of drugs as part of a larger effort to crack down on street-level dealing. In a statement issued late Wednesday, Mr. Fox said the law should be changed “to make it absolutely clear that in our country the possession of drugs and their consumption are and continue to be crimes.”

      In the Morenos Mountains campesinos are planting their fields
      While the ghost of Zapata rides a horse that can still outrun the wheel
      While free in the sky high above, nearly clear out of sight
      It’s the Free Mexican Air Force flyin’ tonight.
      In the City of Angels a cowboy is cooling his heels
      Remembering that God gave us herbs and the fruits of the fields
      But a criminal law that makes outlaws of those seeking light
      Made the Free Mexican Air Force, Mescalito riding his white horse —
      Yeah the Free Mexican Air Force is flyin’ tonight!
      (After every verse:) Flying so high – yi – hiyeeeee! …

      How strange that an innocent herb causes money to burn
      They’ll jail you or kill you for making those rich fat cats squirm.
      They’re the fools who make rules with no difference between wrong and right
      That’s why the Free Mexican Air Force is flyin’ tonight.
      Uncle Sam in his misery put a Nix on the fields of Guerreros
      Sayin’ shoot down all gringos and wetbacks who dare wear sombreros
      Either run for your life, surrender, or stand up and fight —
      Or join the Free Mexican Air Force, Mescalito riding his white horse,
      Yeah the Free Mexican Air Force is flying tonight!

      It is not marijuana destroying the minds of the young
      But confusion continued for power and greed in all forms
      Well, the borders of evil will fall to the smugglers of light
      We’re the Free Mexican Air Force and we’re flyin’ tonight!
      In San Antonio they tell me that power and money are one
      They can buy us or sell you to keep you afraid, on the run
      But no one can stop us! My vision is clearly in sight
      And the Free Mexican Air Force, Mescalito riding his white horse,
      Yeah the Free Mexican Air Force is flyin’ tonight

      Some were smoking Colitas while other were loading their guns
      Blowing smoke from their six-shooters, spinning their barrels for fun
      Contrabandistas, banditos alike —
      We’re the Free Mexican Air Force and we’re flyin’ tonight.
      High in the hills we are harvesting sweet sinsemilla
      Yeah the law wants it all ’cause they know that the wild weed can free ya
      And freedom for us is a prison for the rulers of might
      That’s why the Free Mexican Air Force —
      Mescalito riding his white horse —
      Yeah, the Free Mexican Air Force is flyin’ tonight
      Flyin’ so high- yi- yee…Flyin’ tonight!
      ~The Free Mexican Air Force by Peter Rowan

      Canada’s Supremes Cower Under DEAth Threats
      Canada’s Supreme Court upholds anti-pot laws
      Canada’s Supreme Court has proven that our society is a prison, and that we are but prisoners, whose inalienable rights may be suppressed by political whimsy and ridiculous twists of reasoning more suitable to a genie granting wishes than judges appointed to uphold humane standards.

      Between 1969 and 1977, government appointed commissions in Canada, England, Australia, and the Netherlands issued reports that agreed with the Shafer Commission’s conclusions. All found that marijuana’s dangers had been greatly exaggerated. All urged lawmakers to drastically reduce penalties for marijuana possession, or eliminate them altogether.

      6 to 3 Canada Shows its Puppets December 23 2003

      Loosen Pot Laws and Face Tighter Border U.S. Warns!
      Drug Czar Talks About Tightening at Border
      Relaxed Pot Laws May Affect Border
      Canadian Pot Legislation Could Snarl Border
      Danger On Our Northern Border
      Pot Bill Could Bog Down Border
      U.S. Warns Pot Plan To Clog Border
      A Border War Over Pot
      140 More Agents Will Be Sent To Border
      Canada, U.S. Bolster Border Security
      Potent Marijuana, Lax Laws Frustrate U.S. Border
      Police Smoke Out Cross-Border Marijuana Trade
      U.S. Faults Canada for Letting Drugs Across Border
      Marine Anti-Drug Border Patrol Suspended
      Looking Over the Northern Border
      Opposite Side of Border, Opposite Pot Issue
      Border Crossers Fall Victim to Profit-Takers
      Fired Border Patrol Agent Blames Hemp Bar
      Italy Police Battle Reefer Madness at Swiss Border
      Unmanned Planes Tested in Border Watch

      “the primary reason to outlaw marijuana
      is its effect on the degenerate races.”

      ~ HARRY J ANSLINGER,
      Commissioner of the US Bureau of Narcotics 1930 -1962

  • Duncan20903

    I’m ashamed of myself. This incident makes me think of the old joke that has the punchline “A good start!”

    • Duncan20903

      Just look at the level of violence in Afghanistan…it’s soooo much lower. (snark-snarky-snark-snark)

      Recently I was waxing nostalgic for the most excellent Afghani black hash that was very available in the US in the early 1980s. This hash came to us courtesy of the group of people we called “Freedom Fighters”, who were battling the commie Russians to keep their independence. Today we call the same group of people “terrorists”. Go figure that one out.

  • I have to add to my reply to antifascist above…

    I have no doubt that there are very slimy folks attached to the WOD and it’s militarization. I came back to comment because I ran across this quote from a 1996 book review by our friend Peter Webster of Richard Lawrence Miller’s Drug Warriors and Their Prey – From Police Power to Police State:

    If the very accurate and chilling comparisons of developments in 1930′s Germany to the modern War on Drugs disgusts some readers to the point where they are blinded to the reality exposed in Drug Warriors, that in itself is a telling parallel to that decade before the beginning of WWII. Euphemisms and pacification would today certainly go no further in helping to reverse ill-conceived Drug Prohibition than they did in reversing the Reich’s rise to power. Books and articles by those who predicted the inevitable course that post WWI fascism would take were, as will be Mr. Miller’s book today, viewed as unnecessarily alarmist, the product of an over-vivid imagination or even fanaticism. But in the telling of such truth, as in the recommendation of possible means of avoidance of great disaster, there really is no alternative but the kind of stark simplicity of theme which Drug Warriors epitomizes. For the few persons on the brink of waking up to the reality of the Drug War, the book will certainly provide better catalysis than other current, and less honest if more complacent tracts. For those masses eternally convinced that “it can’t happen here,” there is, history would teach, little that can convince.

    -snip-

    Just as it was difficult for people in the US or England of the 1930′s to get worked up about a “few incidents” of the breaking of windows of Jewish shops, or the “excesses” of burning the contents of a library or two, it is today difficult perhaps to get worked up over some of the documented “excesses” of the Drug War, hundreds of which are described and referenced in Drug Warriors. “A few” such incidents can always be blamed on individual human error and frailty, as when an over-zealous cop assassinates a purported marijuana dealer. But what of the evidence so well presented in Drug Warriors of actual drug warrior “death squads” instituted by US government agencies to “assassinate narcotics leaders?” What are we to make of the statement of former Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl Gates (also the founder and designer of the DARE program, “Drug Abuse Resistance Education”): In 1990 he advised the U.S. Senate about the “‘casual user’ and what you do with the whole group. The casual user ought to be taken out and shot, because he or she has no reason for using drugs.” Gates later emphasized that he was not being facetious and declared marijuana users to be guilty of treason. Such sentiment in the US today is not unusual. William Bennett, the former “Drug Czar” and therefore top drug police officer declared that ethically no trial is required before killing citizens suspected of drug dealing. The next day Bennett said of drug dealers, “You deserve to die.” (These passages quoted or paraphrased from Drug Warriors, where they are referenced.) Comparisons to the Gestapo are unavoidable.

    Miller goes to great lengths to make it painfully obvious that we are not dealing with a few minor incidents provoked by the occasional renegade, but as in 1930′s Germany, a vast and vicious machine is being oiled and tested, a horribly familiar pattern is again materializing, and normal law-abiding citizens are today just as unaware of what lies just around the corner as they were formerly.

    And what all led to this was talking to a friend that teaches HS in CA who has a teacher friend in Idaho where the public education system is taking a huge hit. And there is a continued push to remove human teachers and replace them w/ ‘puters and online learning. We need more jobs, not less and here they are, right here in River City! replacing teachers jobs w/ their technology. Oh… and pee testing of teachers… just saw that raised as a bill back east somewhere. But it’s a push that is touching states all across the country, WI had a protest in the Capitol Rotunda, thousands of people… protesting state cuts to their jobs, pay and benefits.

    My thought was that anyone that doubts the correlation between the rising prison population and those costs and the reduced quality of and spending on US education… isn’t paying attention. The squeeze is on. Me personally, I don’t have a “last drop” for them to squeeze out.

    In around 3 weeks, Egypt’s activist citizens mobilized a nation and ousted a 30 year dictator…

    Will that light turn on, here? Or have we been pacified to the point of mass apathy? That’s what I liked in Peter’s quote above, the only deterrent to the police state is active citizens… and for the US to take this is recent killing of an agent as a reason to escalate… *shakes head* it’s just another excuse. And with these people any excuse is a good excuse. We reallllly need to stop the WOD. In my mind it becomes an issue less and less about any substance and more about this terrible trend actually seeing it’s putrid fruition – perhaps in spite of our best efforts.

    Oh yeah… the poking around I did on what’s happening in Idaho’s education cuts showed a familiar name, Bill Bennett. Seems Bill is a principle in one of the nation’s largest corporate sellers of online educational programs… and again, in my mind, it’s just a short step to Mel Sembler, Calvina Fay and the whole Straight Inc/Seed debacle…

    6 degrees of Kevin Bacon indeed…

    And it’s all about the money…

  • denmark

    The headline says it all, good one indeed. We do realize the predictable direction this will go.

    Nice calendar allan420, suitable for framing.
    Didn’t I read that NORML or one of the others are going to do activist workshops? Bout time!! What a wonderful network it’ll create too.

  • Cliff

    I think a quote from Super Chicken is quite appropriate here regarding a man with a piece of state issued costume jewelry in an admitted ‘war zone’ with really bad people who would like to kill you.

    “He knew the job was dangerous when he took it.”

    I feel pity for his loved ones, but not for him. He understood the risks involved and choose the big $ over being there for his family. He got his 20 pieces of silver and he paid for it with his life. Too bad, so sad.

    It’s just too bad that his death is like another little Reichstag Fire, another reason to play on human emotion to tighten the screws another turn. We will all pay for our governments sins, bet on it.

  • vicky vampire

    Yes non-violent civil disobedience best way to go.and yes citizens must get active.
    Pot is beautiful, I think I’LL do some Paintings of Marijuana this year,of course to some that’s horrible like porn that’s it I’ll be a proud pot Pornographer.HAHA!!!!
    Yes ,Quotes from Allen from Police Chief Daryl Gates and William Bennett some years back are what got me to check out everything these two stood for which I thought was caring and reasonable,no they both would not let reason and compassion penetrate their Skulls for one moment ever.The do not budge on their prohibition at all,not even when folks are sick and dying.I used to respect these guys yeah I’m a different person now.
    Fifty three dead in Ciudad Juarez, Who fucking needs abortion for population control,keep up the KILLING rates and depopulation will happen on fraking schedule.