Maierovitch: “The Mexican Drug Wars Are Lost”

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The Instituto Brasileiro Giovanni Falcone is an NGO run by former Brazilian drug czar and acerbic “spies and mafias” columnist for Carta Capital magazine, Walter Maierovitch. It is named after the slain Italian antimafia magistrate.

Maierovitch will often post the draft of his column on his Web site before it runs in the magazine.

It makes a good “before” and “after” case study of the editorial process.

Maierovitch is a subject matter expert and highly educated man, obviously, but the column as it ran in CartaCapital this week is vastly improved after going through a couple of rounds of editing.

It never ceases to amaze me how difficult it can be to dislodge the idea that brilliant editorial springs fullblown from the minds of impeccable geniuses, like Athena from the brow of Zeus.

Em 1998 fui convidado pelas NaçõesUnidas a acompanhar, como observador, a Assembléia Especial das Nações Unidas dedicada ao fenômeno das drogas ilícitas.

In 1998, I was invited by the United Nations to attend a UN special assembly on illicit drugs as an observer.

Actually, these are known as “special sessions of the General Assembly.” This was the XXth Special Session of the General Assembly on the World Drug Problem.

Dessa assembléia saiu, por influência norte-americana, um mote, aprovado por unanimidade pelos estados-membros presentes. O slogan era o seguinte: UM MUNDO LIVRE DE DROGAS PODEMOS CONSEGUIR.

Thanks to American influence, a slogan emerged from assembly, endorsed by all the member-states present, a slogan emerged: A DRUG-FREE WORLD: WE CAN DO IT.

Na ocasião, no café do Palácio de Vidros (sede da ONU), conversei com vários estudiosos, da chamada linha progressista, porque o mote era falso. Bastava olhar a história. Isto para perceber que era mera utopia conceber um mundo sem uso de drogas. Uma breve consulta ao historiador Heródoto resolveria.

At the time, in the café of the Glass Palace (UN headquarters), I talked with a number of researchers from the so-called progressive school of thought, because that slogan is not true. So they would see that it is a mere utopia to try conceive a world without drug use. As a brief consultation of Herodotus would show.

Em síntese, mais uma vez os campeões mundiais de consumo, –naquela oportunidade sob o comando do presidente Bill Clinton (discursou na Assembléia)–, convenceram os demais estados-membros, incluído o Brasil , da possibilidade de um mundo livre das drogas.

In summary, once more the world champions of drug consumption — led at the time by President Clinton, who addressed the General Assembly — convinced the other member states, including Brazil, of the possibility of a drug-free world.

Na véspera dos 10 anos da referida assembléia-especial, os EUA continuam a liderar o consumo. A economia movimentada pelas drogas cresceu e, num quadro planetário, a oferta explodiu em face do aumento da demanda.

On the eve of the 10th anniversary, the U.S. continues to be the leading consumer. The drug economy has grown, and on a global scale, supply has skyrocketed to meet growing demand.

A fórmula fracassada das Nações Unidas para o tal “mundo sem drogas” era, fundamentalmente, a repressão policial, a eliminação de cultivos ( por exemplo o “Plan Colômbia” e o boliviano Plano Dignidade), a troca internacional de informações, a responsabilidade compartilhada entre países, e imposição de penas pesadas aos consumidores.

The failed UN formula for achieving said “drug-free world” was, in essence, police repression, elimination of plantations (for example “Plan Colombia” and Plan Dignity” in Bolivia), international information-sharing, shared international responsibility, and imposing heavy punishments on users.

Por que voltei a lembrar da referida Assembléia Especial, prestes a completar 10 anos ? É que o México acaba de divulgar o balanço dos últimos dez anos de combate as drogas. Um fracasso total.

Why do I recall this Special Session on the even of its 10th anniversary? Because Mexico has just published the results of its ten-year war on drugs. A complete failure.

Seguem alguns dados, que dispensam comentários:

Some data that require no comment:

–50% de aumento de consumo de drogas entre os mexicanos.

A 50% increase in drug consumption among Mexicans

— os mexicanos ultrapassaram os colombianos na introdução de cocaína, maconha e heroína, em território norte-americano.

Mexicans passed Colombians in the volume of cocaine, marijuana and heroin smuggled into the United States.

— entre os anos 2000 e 2007, morreram 11.800 pessoas em conflitos ligados às drogas, morreram, entre 2000 e 2007.

Between 2000 and 2007, 11,800 persons died in conflicts linked to the drug trade …

The number is adjusted downward in the print column, in the vicinity of 9,500.

— nos últimos dez anos, foram presas 90 mil pessoas acusadas por narcotráfico. Foram encarcerados 40 grossos chefões de cartéis mexicanos.

In the last ten years, 90,000 persons were arrested on drug trafficking charges, and 40 big bosses of the Mexican cartels were jailed.

Maierovitch actually comments at length on this point, as to why it represents failure rather than success: locking people up is not affecting the flow of merchandise.

Se o internauta quiser mais dados sobre o fracasso mexicano, — e o atual “Plan México” obedece a linha da guerra às drogas (igual do governador Sérgio Cabral)—, fique a vontade para solicitar.

If the reader wants more data on the Mexican failure — and the current “Plan Mexico” follows the same line of the war on drugs (as does Rio governor Sérgio Cabral) — feel free to ask.

The point being that putting the heads of drug cartels in jail is an empty show of efficiency if the Bolivian marching powder is still showing up on Ivy League dorm-room mirrors and in the crack pipes of Cleveland in copious quantities.

December 1996: General Gutierrez to head Mexican drug war

February 1997: Mexican general dismissed on drug charges

I read some of the coverage of the Mexican government’s progress report.

I think I saw them claiming that the U.S. street price has risen as a result of their heroic efforts.

Let me check.
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Personally, I would settle for keeping the stoners parked in front of the TV rather behind the wheel of a car.

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