Both the New York Times and the Dallas Morning News discuss the failures of the drug war in Mexico. Both are interesting, and give a clear sense of the futility of current drug policies.
The Times article focuses mostly on the corruption of the police…
Not one of the officers denied that there were abuses and corruption in their ranks. […] The starting salary for the typical municipal police officer is less than $350 a month, better than a factory worker but less than the average cab driver. They get only basic medical treatment if they get hurt on the job. And their families get just enough to bury them, less than $6,000, if they are killed on duty.
One officer described how he would handle an encounter with a drug trafficker:
“I would tell them: ‘I do not want to work with you. But I am not here to fight you, either. They do not pay me enough for that,’ ” the shift commander said. ” ‘Just do not bother me, or my family. I will not bother you, and we can all live in blessed peace.’ “
The Dallas paper took it further, going into an in-depth picture of the entire messy situation in Mexico
Mexico finally is fighting the war on drugs that the U.S. government has demanded for decades: a frontal assault on drug barons, their organizations and their merchandise, using the police and military in concert with U.S. intelligence. […]
But a rising chorus of voices in Mexico and the U.S. says the real results are record levels of violence, instability and corruption in Mexico, resurgent drug cartels, nearly 200 dead police officers and soldiers, along with millions of wasted dollars in a country where half the population of 105 million is poor. Mexico receives almost no aid from the U.S. government.
And the result in the U.S.? No noticeable drop in the supply of cheap drugs — and an actual decline in the price of cocaine, according to a new U.N. report.
What makes this article particularly interesting is that a couple of times they voice the unspeakable:
The Americans pressure us to carry out a head-on drug war, and when the situation starts to get out of control, the Americans complain that there is violence on the border,” said political commentator JosÚ Antonio Crespo. “There is no way of making them happy because they always have some reason not to be.”
Before the violence spirals out of control, as it has in Colombia as a result of similar policies, Mr. Crespo said, Mexico should go back to pretending to fight an unwinnable war rather than fighting it in earnest.
“If the United States is not going to legalize drugs, then Mexico has to come to terms with the narcos,” he said. “There were agreements in the past to let 80 percent of the drugs through, to allow some seizures for the Americans and for the media, and there was a lot less violence.”
U.S.-inspired drug policies have been “a negative in terms of cost” to such countries as Mexico and Colombia, said Gary S. Becker, economics professor at the University of Chicago. He said the drug war has hindered Colombia’s economic growth rate and “the preoccupation with cartels has hurt the country.”
“Mexico may be moving in that direction,” said Dr. Becker, who won the Nobel Prize for economics in 1992. “This is a very expensive process for the U.S. and other countries, and there’s little bang for the buck, as it were.
“My conclusion is that we have to look at more radical solutions such as legalization of drugs.”
Dr. Becker acknowledged, however, that such a development is unlikely any time soon, noting that “the vast majority of politicians are unwilling to take on legalization in any serious way.”
This is a big step in journalism. Not only pointing out the horrible futility of the current policies, but actually having the courage to at least mention the “L” word is a serious context.