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Web Letters | The Nation

Web Letter

Thanks for your generally good work. Was extremely dismayed to read the US State Department party line parroted in Mr. Becker's piece. The Merida Initiative is an ongoing disaster. You and your team ought to review in detail Laura Carlsen's piece on Drug War Doublespeak. And more on the issue at Counterpunch.

And for Mr. Becker to quote the inside-the-Beltway groups like HRW lauding the Merida Initiative without a critical voice is shameful. Do you know some groups and their affiliates can stand to benefit from the $ of the Merida Initiative for rule-of-law "training"? Shouldn't that be mentioned? What a breach of good reporting.

And that hundreds of real on the ground human rights groups denounce the plan? And that the existing human rights requirements haven't even been adhered to? http://narcosphere.narconews.com/notebook/kristin-bricker/2009/02/plan-m...

And see also the site of Friends of Brad Will (dedicated to the reporter murdered in Oaxaca Mexico in 2006, precisely one year before the Calderon regime was rewarded with military largesse).

If you are going to fund investigative journalism, please do so. Please also share this with Mr. Becker and encourage him to look further in the issues he is covering.

Harry Bubins

New York, NY

Mar 26 2009 - 6:45am

Web Letter

This article was disappointing. I would have learned as much by attending the Congressional Hearings on Plan Mexico (as those on the left and the right concerned with militarization, civil liberties and the spread of corruption and violence due to prohibition call it).

Those hearings also excluded the voices of any of the range of principled opponents to this dangerous policy.

Supporting an unpopular president, Calderón, with a lethal aid package at a moment when Mexico is teaming with civil movements against the US-government-pushed energy and education sector privatization schemes, resource thefts, and top-down cacique governance is dangerous.

Why didn't Becker even interview some of those opposed to Plan Mexico? I especially liked this paragraph: "The issue is being taken up in Washington. The Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan immigration think tank, last month organized a round-table discussion sponsored by the Army War College Strategic Studies Institute that gathered about forty scholars, policy analysts and US officials from the State, Justice and Homeland Security departments for the opening round of talks to recommend how to address Mexico's security problems and help manage the migration wrought by the war while dealing with this country's own border issues, including corruption and firearms trafficking."

Why would The Nation publish this article?

Becker could have started with this and then moved on to read the coverage of the corruption of Gen. (Ret.) Barry MacCaffrey--a former Drug Czar.

Robert Jereski

New York, NY

Mar 24 2009 - 11:51am

Web Letter

I was extremely surprised and disappointed to read in The Nation the same alarmist, myopic, incorrect analysis and regurgitation of the government party lines about the so-called "drug war." There has been a drumbeat of propaganda from US government and military officials and pundits claiming that Mexico is at risk of being a failed state, on the verge of civil war, losing control of its territory and posing a threat to US national security. It is sad to see The Nation parroting this false narrative.

What has been dubbed "drug-war doublespeak" aims not to win the war on drugs but to assure funding and public support for the military model of combating illegal drug trafficking, despite the losses and overwhelming evidence that current strategies are not working. Case in point, the Merida Initiative, launched just before Bush was out the door and based on the disastrous Plan Colombia.

Alarmist cries help clinch the passage this Plan Mexico to further militarize the southern border and obtain lucrative contracts for mercenaries like Blackwater/Xe.

The Nation would be better off drawing more attention to the US demand and harm reduction and for the need to cut off pork barrel contracts to military contractors. Also, open up the debate to all options include legalization. Three former presidents propose to do just that: Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brasil, César Gaviria of Colombia and Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico. In a recently released report, they pronounced the war on drugs a failure and call for a "paradigm shift."

The jingoistic repetition of State Department propaganda has no place in The Nation.

Jennifer Rivera

Austin, TX

Mar 23 2009 - 7:12pm

Web Letter

Mexican bordertowns have long had a "sleazy" reputation. Drug trafficking and violence are certainly not new to these areas: Tijuana, Ciudad Juarez, Matamoros, etc. The Herrera family of Durango peddled heroin in the 1950s when the "perfect dictatorship" of the PRI (Revolutionary Institutional Party) was probably at the peak of its power. The Herrera family's tentacles were all over Mexico and penetrated the United States, reaching as far north as Pittsburgh. In 1975 the PRI welcomed the DEA, which started operating in Mexico. So basically there's nothing new, it has simply intensified and is compounded by the customary corruption, which recently has reached into the highest levels of government.

The reader from Riverside is fairly accurate in his assessment. Mexio faces the daunting task of how to combat unrelenting drug trafficking and corruption/impunity (among the three major parties) on the one hand and, as a nascent democracy growing out of a putrid single-party state, guaranteeing constitutional protections when its citizens and institutions have not had much experience in these matters. Already there are constituional issues about their army patrolling the streets and the Mexican Human Rights Commission (Comision Nacional de Derechos Humanos) has 120 cases under investigation.

If legalizing and controlling drugs is a social experiment worth trying, it could only work if both Mexico and the US act simultaneously. The last thing we want to see is a police state on either side of the Rio Grande.

John Molina

Chula Vista, CA

Mar 21 2009 - 6:48pm

Web Letter

One can appreciate the gravity of the situation when the head of Mexico's Green Party advocates bringing back the death penalty. The level of violence goes beyond ordinary criminal behavior into the realm of an insurgency. The fact that the army has replaced the police force testifies to the nature of this conflict. Besides fully assisting the Mexican government in a manner that respects their sovereignty, we need to look at our own drug laws and recognize that they have created a criminal class worse than the one created by the prohibition of alcohol. As with alcohol, drugs should be regulated, but not prohibited. When a criminal act results from their use, people should be punished for that act, as with a drunk driving offense. As with other insurgencies, the use of force will not totally solve the problem. Political acts may reduce the criminal activities that are encouraged by Prohibition.

Pervis James Casey

Riverside, CA

Mar 20 2009 - 12:42pm

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