Thursday, September 24, 2009

Blaming the Gabachos

From Mayor José Reyes Ferriz of Juárez:
He said that [tolerance of celebrity drug use, i.e. Michael Phelps] "sends the message to Americans that the use of drugs in the US is OK, but not the traffic of drugs from Mexico, and that's why the US must adopt coherent policies with a position that deals with a shared problem".

He added that given the above, both nations must have policies that transcend borders, "the present American administration recognizes that this is a mutual problem, and it is confronting it as a bilateral topic, but I don't think that we now have a policy that is coherent with that".
I'm sympathetic to his predicament, given that he is a man whose city has gone to hell (I'd like to write "quite literally" here, but of course that isn't true; however, figuratively, Juárez has gone to hell to a degree much more significant than, say, New York under Ed Koch) and whose life is at no small degree of risk because of American addicts. At the same time, the sentiment is sorely misplaced.

First of all, the statement is premised on the idea that the US is not acting with a firm hand as it is. There are some developed nations whose drug policies are stricter than the US's, but there were, by one count, 60,000-85,000 people behind American bars for marijuana crimes. Famously, the US imposes penalties for crack use that are 100 times harsher than the corresponding penalties for cocaine. The US has never struck me as having a particularly lax drug policy. And, of course, Mexico just decriminalized drug possession (in small amounts), which makes Reyes' comments seem a little bit hypocritical.

In any event, to help Juárez, the US needs to have less addicts and drug users, and of course there's no real proof that, staying consistent to our ideals (i.e., not executing people for smoking pot), a hard line does much to lower drug use. If he's just making a rhetorical argument about the US being hypocritical, well, that's a perfectly reasonable point, but again, locking Michael Phelps in jail isn't going to do much for Juárez.

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