Monday, August 15, 2005

Killing Reporters on the Borders

There is a war on. Reporters are being targeted for violence and murder. The targeting is so effective that the reporters are no longer reporting the events that are getting reporters killed. Sound a lot like Iraq? If you said yes you would be wrong. The country in question is much closer to home. Mexico.

And what war is going on in Mexico? Haven't you heard? We are having a drug war.

NUEVO LAREDO, Mexico - A drug war is ripping apart northern Mexico, but you won't find many details about who's behind it in the local newspapers. Journalists, after their colleagues have been killed, kidnapped and threatened with death, have stopped investigating organized crime.

"It's the new trend of drug gangs: Journalists are warned, paid off or killed," said Daniel Rosas, the managing editor of the daily El Manana, the oldest newspaper in this border city south of Laredo, Texas. "Drug battles have become bloodier, and gangs have no code of ethics. They don't respect human life; why should they respect reporters?"

El Manana, founded in 1932 after the Mexican revolution with a motto to promote freedom of expression, has been self-censoring itself since its editor, Roberto Javier Mora Garcia, was stabbed to death on March 19, 2004.
Killing reporters is pretty bad. However there is worse going on:
MEXICO CITY -- Nobody wanted the job of police chief in Nuevo Laredo, a city on the U.S.-Mexico border plagued by drug gangs and violence. Finally, Alejandro Dominguez, 52, a businessman and father of three, volunteered to take the post to help his besieged city. Last Wednesday, hours after being sworn in, Dominguez was assassinated by men firing assault rifles from a convoy of Chevrolet Suburbans.
Funny this never made the national news. At least not in the sense of being given day in day out coverage. And yet:
The human cost of Mexico's aggressive war on drug trafficking is skyrocketing as the country suffers through the worst barrage of drug-related violence in years. More than 600 people have been killed this year, often in remarkably bold and bloody executions, according to national press tallies and state-by-state crime reports.

Nuevo Laredo is just one hot spot in a grisly conflict that has spread across the country. In recent months, a farmer in the Pacific coast state of Sinaloa was gunned down as he visited his parents' grave, and a father in Monterrey, in northern Mexico, was shot dead in front of his son in a video arcade. Authorities have found corpses with limbs chopped off and drums of acid they believe traffickers used to dissolve the bodies of their victims.
And yet this carnage is not being covered in depth by our DOM (Dinosaurs Of the Media). Why?

Perhaps what we see is the real truth about reporters. For most of them it is just a job. They have the courage to handle occasional danger. Permanent danger is not in the job specs.

The other truth here is that what goes on South of the Border cannot be permanently confined to South of the Border. The killing will be moving north as soon as it becomes profitable.
In a recent interview, Fox likened Mexico's "explosion of organized crime killing" to the Al Capone era in Chicago. "Let's recall Chicago in the early '20s. I mean it took years to get rid of the mafias, it took years to get rid of organized crime," he said. Fox said U.S. and Mexican authorities were working jointly to confront criminals who control "millions and millions and millions of dollars."
In the discussion of Al Capone notice anything important left out? That is right. The only way the government was able to reduce organized crime was to end prohibition. Why? Because there are two iron rules of prohibition. The harder the enforcement the harder the drugs. The harder the enforcement the harder the criminals.
Federal officials said that frequently their enemies are not just the drug cartels, but local police who have been corrupted by drug money. That problem has unleashed a growing battle between federal police officers, many of them trained by U.S. law enforcement, and their local counterparts, underscored by the recent clash in Nuevo Laredo.
Local police corrupted by drug money? You do see it in America from time to time. What happens when it becomes systematic? Well it is not good.

And what are American drug enforcers up to these days given the violence of the drug trade in Mexico? They are doing what any rational person would do: focusing on drugs in Canada.The Canadians are such nice folks, especially the pot heads; but them Mexican cartel folks? A feller could get himself killed.
"Apparently, one of [the U.S. government's] objectives, and this is unbelievably offensive, is to alter and modify Canadian criminal justice policy in relation to drugs," said Alan Young, a law professor and marijuana advocate at York University. "Whether or not this is part and parcel of that exercise I have no clue ... but they've clearly stated this is the direction they want Canada to go in."

He suggested Canada's approval of a U.S. request to begin extradition hearings against Vancouver pot merchant Marc Emery, a close friend of Mr. Young's who was arrested last month in Halifax, is another example of attempts to appease the Americans.

Mr. Emery's shop was raided after an undercover operation in which authorities allege he sold marijuana seeds at an annual profit of $3-million to customers, 75% of whom were American. The allegations also constitute an offence in Canada, but such cases have rarely been prosecuted.
In all likelyhood you have heard nothing of this unless you are as interested in the Drug War as I am.

We know from history that more enforcement is not the answer to the problems caused by prohibition. However, until we get some reporters with courage and a historical sense in America civil disorder will increase, corruption will increase, and the bodies will continue to pile up.

Welcome Instapundit readers.

For my take on the drug problem from a medical/chemistry point of view:

Addiction or Self Medication?
Heroin
Genetic Discrimination

There is more on the side bar. Scroll down.

17 comments:

Eric said...

This by the way is the strongest reason for anti-Prohibition.

Although the drugs as pain relief theory is good too.

I just don't know.

This is teh point where I wish for federalism. Let some state try it out, and let teh other states learn from the experience.

PS> When I saw the Instalink, I thought you were discussing killing reporters in Iraq which I just wrote a short story about last night.

Eric R. Ashley

KJB43 said...

Since you are into simplistic solutions to human problems, like most Libertarians, let us just declare everything legal, and everyone out for themselves and everyone suffering for their own decisions without hinderance. What exactly is the difference between this political idea and general anarchy?
Everytime I hear about legalization there are always qualifiers, no to kids having access, tax it, private use only, no driving under the influence, etc. Well guess what, folks will break all those qualifing laws, and use violence to do. The medical costs of legalization will likely be huge just by judging the medical costs of alcohol abuse and cigerettes. The 'pain and suffering' to the abuser and their family/friends will also be huge. Then there is the likely increase in crime as addicts steal to feed an unrelenting 'hunger'when their legal sources of funding run out. Legalized drugs will have an increase in potency, and if the legal stuff is limited in 'kick' an illegal drug market in the powerful stuff will arise-and we are back where we started.
Good arguments have been made that opium abuse in China played a big part in reducing that country to the sorry state that made it ripe pickings for Europe and Japan.
Other than giving an artificial 'feel good' sense illegal drugs have no value or use.
As to law enforcement, much as I dislike pouring money into a problem, the Border Patrol needs to be replaced by a Border Guard and/or the military expanded and put on the borders. Drug users should be given a choice of jail, heavy fines levied over years out of pay checks, or mandatory treatment with mandatory monitoring for years afterward.

Slocum said...

Everytime I hear about legalization there are always qualifiers, no to kids having access, tax it, private use only, no driving under the influence, etc. Well guess what, folks will break all those qualifing laws, and use violence to do.

But those qualifiers are exactly those in place for alchohol and tobacco and yet there is no epidemic of violence involved in getting around those restrictions.

Anonymous said...

I agree that our current drug laws are crazy, but the pinhead from Canada who complains about us trying to enforce our laws against Canadians who violate them by the mail is not a good reference for your post. Ask him how he'd feel if an American tried to mail a handgun to a friend in Canada, and whether their gun prohibitions are unfair to Americans.

Anonymous said...

A group from my church was supposed to go do missions work in Nuevo Laredo this summer. Needless to say, we sent them elsewhere after hearing of the drug wars from the local church with whom they were to be working. I wondered then, as I wonder now, where is the press on this? And will this be gotten under control in time for the rescheduled November trip?

Lone Ranger said...

Given that line of logic, why don't we just decriminalize everything? If nothing is illegal, then there would be no reason for anyone to be killed -- reporters, politicians, policemen, etc. We could all just go along our merry way, doing whatever we want. And think of all the tax money that would be saved by disbanding all those police departments.

By the way, as a reporter myself, the death of a reporter simply means that other people have a bit more air to breath.

michael said...

The Dallas Morning News had a front page article on the Fourth of July noting the murders of police and the destruction of the government in Mexico.

Our Fourth Amendemnt and cultural practice makes it very difficult to screen for users here but without demand there would be no supply. It is unethical and arrogant of us to leave such a trail of destruction in the service on the one hand of our privacy and, on the other, of our demand for drugs. We need to change our willingness to investigate and curb our use and let possession be innocuous.

M. Simon said...

kjb43,

Was legalization a simplistic solution for the problems of alcohol prohibition?

So far no one has wanted to repeat that experiment.

As I see it you can deal with the drug problem, or you can deal with a drug and criminal problem.

Our drug problem is a form of what I call Republican Socialism: price supports for criminals.

=======================

The problems of Nuevo Laredo will not be solved by this November. They will not be solved until prohibition ends.

=======================

BTW the violence and corruption from the trade in prohibited substances has been moving steadily north.

It is only a matter of time until it jumps the border.

========================

Shipping contraband into a country through open channels (UPS, FedEx, etc.) is a problem for the customs agencies of the recieving country.

The problem with Marc Emery is that seeds are small and can be shipped by first class mail so no customs declaration is required. (I have no idea how he was shipping the seeds)

Not to worry though.

Amsterdam will take up the slack.

==========================

lone ranger,

Given your line of logic why don't we recriminalize alcohol? It is a very dangerous drug.

===========================

It all comes down to what you want to deal with.

A drug problem. Or a drug plus criminal problem.

We made the right choice with alcohol. Are we making the right choice with the substances we currently ban?

You decide.

M. Simon said...

Michael,

70% of the female heroin users were sexually molested as children.

Heroin

Perhaps we don't have a drug problem. Perhaps we have a child abuse problem and drugs are the symptom.

i.e. perhaps people are taking drugs for pain relief. A novel idea to be sure.

Is it moral to deny those in pain relief? I don't think so. Your morality may vary.

michael said...

M. Simon,
There are no studies of heroin being a helpful treatment in a sexual abuse history. It probably is a way of suppressing intrusive memories as are alcohol and other drugs of abuse. Generally, memories come back strongly after the person finds their self treatment a problem. A recent study suggested hydrocortisone at 10 mg a day may significantly inhibit 'consolidation of memories,' a key step in PTSD. As for depression where there is a history of sexual abuse, I bugged Wyeth-Ayerst to get the company to compare Effexor, a drug it owns, and other SRIs to verify my experience that Effexor is better. 'What do I know' was their, ? appropriate, response. Thanks for your response.

M. Simon said...

michael,

The fact that heroin is not recognized as an effective treatment by the medical establishment is exactly my point.

Evidently it helps those afflicted.

Now who are you going to believe? Doctors who are not even allowed to use opiates for the problem or the patients who find relief?

If people are using drugs to supress painful memories so they can function, I would not call that abuse. I would call it self medication.

Now supposing we have better medicines for the problem why are we having a war on self medicators instead of treating them?

Because we have this model: drugs cause addiction.

My model is: chronic pain causes chronic use.

When the pain goes away so does the drug use. Same as it does when opiates are used to treat a broken leg.

People who don't need drugs don't like their effect.

You see I believe in homeostasis (mostly). People do bad things to themselves and impair their functioning only when the alternative is worse functioning. There are probably exceptions. There are probably not many exceptions.

M. Simon said...

I have heard that some people who have used SRIs for PTSD find the side effects distasteful and the drugs not effective after some initial help.

They claim pot is more effective over a longer term with fewer side effects.

In fact the Israeli Army has a pilot program using smoked pot for soldiers with PTSD. We will know the results in a year or three.

As I recall the program is for those that have tried other medications with out success or with excessive side effects. (I could be confused on this point. I will do some research and post what I find here)

M. Simon said...

Here is the article about the Israeli Army. They are not using smoked pot but the pill form:

PTSD Pot Alcohol & Substance Abuse

Jerusalem post article

M. Simon said...

Of course the memories come back.

People with long term PTSD problems are genetically different.

Their pain/fear memories decay slower than people without the problem. See my article "Genetics".

The memories are going to decay over time. Until they have decayed sufficiently medication will be required. At least until a cure is found. So far all we know how to do is to provide pallitive treatment.

We might be much further along except our wise government has restricted research on pot. Now it seems that the CB1 and CB2 receptors are involved. Cannibinoid receptors. You know as in cannibis. Pot.

Can't have people saying good things about pot now, can we?

michael said...

You can say all the good things about pot you want. A nurse I worked with went to visit family in the mountains of Jamaica. Before she came back her cousin told her not to return. 'All the people in the village' smoked pot, and she did not, and she was not welcome to return. Just as with alcohol, most bourgeious idiots, that would be the people that presently have these drugs illegal, are worried about what might be consdered collateral damage of use. The Temperance Movement staple was the alcoholic, abusive husband. My point and one you in part supported was that antisocial use might be as effectively restrained by policies other than making possession a crime. We don't make having whiskey at your house a crime but do make you having a blood level of 100 mg% while driving one. The line on use can be drawn and investigated anywhere we politically come to. People coming off illegal drug abuse have their memories or negative thoughts return and with a weakened ego. That is why Step one of AA, 'I have become helpeless in my use of....' resonates, and they face their thoughts with a reduced suppleness of ego strength.

You have to keep an open mind on what might work for an individual case of PTSD. Have to give credit to the Israelis for looking for truth anywhere though you're just studying what we have a million + histories for; maybe something in the details they are looking for. Yes, SRIs are best studied though here I didn't recommend them. Hydrocortisone, Cortisol, works by a different mechanism. Effexor is an SNRI; I was suggesting it in depression with a sexual abuse history. There, most typically, it is not intrusive memories but intrusive negative and angry thoughts that might be seen as reflective of the original overwhelmimg of the ego and guilt as a mechanism of coping with this. Leviticus, an early Israeli publication, gave rules that would help keep the ego from being overwhelmed in sexual matters. Like you said, would that it had been applied.

Libertas said...

Great blog.

I am always struck by the future tense used by prohibitionists to describe the horrors they believe would result from ending prohibition. Everything bad they say “will” happen is already the status quo.

They presume the whole world is going to run out and get stoned or become permanent residents of opium dens. When you ask these folks if they would themselves do these things in the event of decriminalization, invariably they insist they would not. The law is not the basis of his or her own decision but somehow it will be the basis of everybody else’s. Que?

Then there’s the old chestnut ”It sends the wrong message to our kids.” Last I checked Congress does not convene in order to send messages to children. When was the last time you saw a kid reading the Congressional Record? Kids don’t get messages from politicians. They get them from entertainers and athletes. Occasionally a kid may get a clue from their parents, but almost never from a politician. Kids emulate their peers. If parents censor their children’s access to popular culture, police their children’s friendships, ensure they succeed in school and teach them right from wrong, their children will not end up in opium dens regardless of the state of the law. If parents neglect their duty, all the government propaganda, punitive laws, abrogations of civil liberties and draconian punishments in the world will not be sufficient to protect their children. It is as simple as that.

The other hyperbolic stereotype is of course waving the Black Flag. It is the prohibitionist’s bloody shirt and most disingenuous scare tactic. “If we legalize drugs we might as well legalize murder and fire the police.” “The horror! The horror” they cry, “Col. Kurtz will rule in a reign of anarchy.” This is utter crap. Anarchy is what we have now. Ask the folks of Nuevo Laredo. It is the failed protectionist’s authoritarian policies that are responsible for the blood in the streets and the corruption of police.

I am also dumbfounded by how theses same prohibitionists seem unable to grasp that artificial scarcity drives up profits, which incentivizes retail marketing of a product. Remove the huge margins and the incentive to market to new customers decreases, yielding lower net rates of drug use. Right now prohibited drugs are the only truly free-market commodities in America. Yet for some reason, an entire Congress full of free-marketeers presumes it is the only area of the economy in which free-market principles do not apply. Que?

Again, great blog. It’s now on my bookmark list.

Libertas

Libertas said...

Great blog.

I am always struck by the future tense used by prohibitionists to describe the horrors they believe would result from ending prohibition. Everything bad they say “will” happen is already the status quo.

They presume the whole world is going to run out and get stoned or become permanent residents of opium dens. When you ask these folks if they would themselves do these things in the event of decriminalization, invariably they insist they would not. The law is not the basis of his or her own decision but somehow it will be the basis of everybody else’s. Que?

Then there’s the old chestnut ”It sends the wrong message to our kids.” Last I checked Congress does not convene in order to send messages to children. When was the last time you saw a kid reading the Congressional Record? Kids don’t get messages from politicians. They get them from entertainers and athletes. Occasionally a kid may get a clue from their parents, but almost never from a politician. Kids emulate their peers. If parents censor their children’s access to popular culture, police their children’s friendships, ensure they succeed in school and teach them right from wrong, their children will not end up in opium dens regardless of the state of the law. If parents neglect their duty, all the government propaganda, punitive laws, abrogations of civil liberties and draconian punishments in the world will not be sufficient to protect their children. It is as simple as that.

The other hyperbolic stereotype is of course waving the Black Flag. It is the prohibitionist’s bloody shirt and most disingenuous scare tactic. “If we legalize drugs we might as well legalize murder and fire the police.” “The horror! The horror” they cry, “Col. Kurtz will rule in a reign of anarchy.” This is utter crap. Anarchy is what we have now. Ask the folks of Nuevo Laredo. It is the failed prohibitionists' authoritarian policies that are responsible for the blood in the streets and the corruption of police.

I am also dumbfounded by how these same prohibitionists seem unable to grasp that artificial scarcity drives up profits, which incentivizes retail marketing of a product. Remove the huge margins and the incentive to market to new customers decreases, yielding lower net rates of drug use. Right now prohibited drugs are the only truly free-market commodities in America. Yet for some reason, an entire Congress full of free-marketeers presumes it is the only area of the economy in which free-market principles do not apply. Que?

Again, great blog. It’s now on my bookmark list.

Libertas