The war on drugs is a war on us.
In case you didn't read the New York Times this weekend, there was a grueling and heart-wrenching story about the families along the border in Mexico caught in the middle of their current political nightmare. When five houses in your neighborhood are set on fire by well-funded and well-armed men, you run - and many people are looking to the US for asylum. "Some of the families who are fleeing from Mexico are doing it because...if you want to get at somebody, you get at their children" said one terrified citizen.
There's a raging battle next door that the US government is responsible for waging and the first wave of refugees have arrived. Towns and cities all along the US border in Mexico are being abandoned as our neighbors flee for their lives.
To protect the children. To save the lives of the children.
We have created a war that kills children in order to save the children.
On January 31st, there was a massacre of students in Juárez straight out of Al Capone's days. Cartel mercenaries burst into a party filled with mostly high school students celebrating a soccer win and a birthday, and murdered 13 teenagers and two adults. Blood and bodies poured onto the street and the outrage poured out of Juárez and El Paso. In response, the US and Mexican governments have vowed to continue the same failed approach with a little extra aggression on top.
Earlier this month, two graduate students at the Monterrey Institute of Technology - the Harvard of Mexico - were murdered when they walked into a showdown between the military and a local cartel. They made the mistake of staying too late at the library to study. The Mexican government denies any real responsibility - but at least they did finally apologize under pressure.
A few days later in Durango, several students on their way to pick up their government scholarship checks were stopped at a cartel check point - stopped from ever breathing again. 10 young people were bombed and killed by the ruthless criminals in control of their part of the country. The victims ranged in age from 8 to 21, half of them under 16. (Apparently the military sometimes stays away from these roadblocks because it's not safe for them - the ones with guns who are hired to protect their citizens.)
So what is the message we are sending to the children?
According to one mother who has managed to escape to Texas with her life, '“All the children, the only thing they know how to play is sicarios,” she said, using the Spanish word for hired killers.'
Last week the LA Times reported the death toll in Mexico is more than previously estimated, and has topped 22,000 since the start of President Calderon's war on drug cartels in December 2007.
You know, it makes me absolutely ill every time a prohibitionist says, "Well if our drug policies save even one child's life, it's worth it."
Great attitude - but can you look at reality yet?