Tag Archive: war on people

Kidnappings, incarceration and the world’s worst heroin habit

In a country with more than two million heroin addicts, Irina Teplinskaya was one of the first. It was back in 1981, as a 14-year-old girl in the Baltic port of Kaliningrad, that she first tried the drug. She came from a prestigious family of senior Communists and was one of just a few who could afford the exciting new drug. She became addicted and suddenly, instead of a move to Moscow to study, her life began to take a very different path. She spent over a decade in prison and contracted hepatitis C, tuberculosis and HIV. right align image
During her last stay in jail, which ended in 2007, her HIV transitioned into full-blown Aids. Her life could have been very different, she says, if people had treated her drug addiction as an illness rather than a crime.
„The answer for me and for millions of others is simple,“ says Ms Teplinskaya, 44, who now works for an organisation advocating a more humane drug policy in Russia – substitution therapy. Almost every country in Europe allows treatment using methadone. Like heroin, it is an opiate, but is administered orally, meaning no risk of HIV transmission through needles.

Russia is the world’s largest heroin consumer and, to add to that, risky injecting practices have fuelled one of the world’s fastest-growing HIV epidemics. With tens of thousands of people dying every year, in a country where the population is shrinking, the twin epidemics are a catastrophe.
Campaigners say methadone would help tame both the heroin and HIV epidemics. As well as preventing HIV transmission, giving addicts methadone also brings them into the medical system, help steer them away from committing crimes to fund their habit and takes trade away from illegal dealers. Even China uses the technique to treat drug addicts. But Russian officials will have none of it. Government figures say it is perverse to treat drug addiction with other drugs and favour methods based on full withdrawal, sometimes against an addict’s will. It’s risky even to discuss methadone – advocates can be accused of „pro-drugs propaganda“ and taken to court.

„There is no logical reason behind Russia’s opposition to substitution therapy,“ says Anya Sarang, a campaigner who advocates the introduction of methadone. „I’ve been fighting this battle for 12 years and I don’t understand the mentality at all. The scientific evidence is all there to prove that it works.“

Ms Sarang and a group of Western academics published a study in the British Medical Journal last year which found that the widespread introduction of substitution therapy could cut rates of HIV transmission in Russia by up to 55 per cent. Estimates vary, but it’s thought that more than two million Russians inject heroin and the drug causes 30,000 deaths per years, as well as tens of thousands of new HIV cases. Russia is located on the transit route for drugs from Afghanistan to Europe and cheap heroin is readily available – a dose of heroin on the streets costs about 600 roubles (£12). If methadone therapy is not available, activists say programmes that offer addicts clean needles and syringes to avoid HIV transmission are essential.

The government, however, is adamant that only aggressive punitive measures can work to tackle drug use. Needle-exchange programmes funded by foreign donors have been discontinued in recent years, leading many addicts to share injecting equipment.
While there is some discussion about whether needle exchanges should be reintroduced, methadone is completely taboo. Leading Russian drugs specialists denounce substitution therapy as a failed Western imposition and see it as a „legalisation“ of drug use.

„We have no evidence from the international community that methadone is effective,“ said the Health minister, Tatyana Golikova, this week, reiterating a long-held government policy.
Others go further. Evgeny Roizman is a former Russian MP from the city of Yekaterinburg in the Ural mountains. He runs a series of clinics there where drug addicts go cold turkey, without methadone or any other drugs to ease the withdrawal symptoms.

He insists that methadone advocates are simply being disingenuous. „These people will say anything to get Western funding,“ says Mr Roizman. „I have worked with drug addicts for years, and I can tell you: methadone doesn’t work.“

He wants to bring in a range of policies, including harsher penalties for drug dealers and compulsory drugs testing in all Russian schools and colleges. „We need forced treatment for drug addicts,“ he says. „We need to force them into special institutions where there are no drugs and where they can be treated. This is the answer, not methadone.“

Last year, a disciple of Mr Roizman was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison for kidnapping drug addicts. Yegor Bychkov said addicts‘ parents had given him permission to „cure“ their children. „Patients were tortured, chained up to steel beds, starved,“ says Ms Sarang. „It was absolutely outrageous and when the court case against him started, we thought there would be a scandal.“

But a huge wave of support for Mr Bychkov swept through the country. Even many from Russia’s beleaguered human rights community joined with church figures and government officials to condemn his trial and in the end the court suspended his sentence and he was released. Mr Bychkov was „overenthusiastic“, said Mr Roizman, but his heart was in the right place.
Ms Teplinskaya, who is still a heroin user, travelled to Moscow last week to meet Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and ask her to press the Russian government on substation therapy. „I think I could have done a lot of good things for my country,“ she said. „But instead, I’ve lost my home, my health and my family. Methadone could have helped me lead a normal life.“

But her opponents are confident their views will prevail. Mr Roizman says: „They can shout as much as they want with their Western money. Methadone will never be legal in Russia.“



Die ehemaligen Staatsoberhäupter von Brasilien, der Schweiz, Mexiko und Kolumbien trafen sich in Genf, um den in Repression erstarrten Drogenkrieg durch den auf soziale und medizinische Aspekte konzentrierten Kampf gegen Rauschgift zu ersetzen.


Dieses international als neu erachtete Modell basiert auf bereits gemachten Erfahrungen in der Schweiz. Das Resultat des repressiven Ansatzes hingegen, seit 1971 von US-Präsident Nixon eingeführt, ist bekannt: Der Drogenkrieg kostet Riesensummen, hat bisher aber wenig brauchbare Resultate erbracht. Ja, oft wird die Situation durch die Repression noch verschlimmert.

Dennoch hat sich an diesem Ansatz bisher wenig verändert, höchstens werden die Vergehen je nach Land mehr oder weniger streng geahndet.

In Genf trafen sich aus diesem Grund die ehemaligen Präsidenten Fernando Henrique Cardoso (Brasilien), Cesar Gaviria (Kolumbien), Ernesto Zedillo (Mexiko) und Ruth Dreifuss (Schweiz). Sie rufen zu einem Strategiewechsel auf, denn inzwischen sind ganze Länder von den Drogenbaronen destabilisiert.

Zum Beispiel in Mexiko, wo allein 2010 der Krieg zwischen Armee und Polizei gegen die Drogenkartelle mehr als 15’000 Tote kostete.


Reiner Verbots-Ansatz

„Die lateinamerikanischen Länder sind erschöpft von diesem Konflikt und vom Ansatz des Prohibitionismus, den die USA weiterhin aufrecht erhalten“, sagt Gaviria. Sich rein auf Verbote abzustützen, sei eine kontraproduktive Politik, die aber auch von den UNO-Organen und den bewaffneten Behörden der Suchtmittel-Konvention von 1961 praktiziert werde.

„Sie gehen immer noch von einer Welt ohne Drogen aus, während es doch noch nie derart viel Rauschgift auf der Welt gab wie jetzt“, so der ehemalige kolumbianische Präsident.

Um aus diesem Kreislauf herauszufinden, der nur dem organisierten Verbrechen Aufschub gibt, schlagen die Politiker in Genf zwar keine Legalisierung verbotener Drogen vor, sondern ein gleichgewichtigeres Vorgehen gegen Rauschgift, das nicht nur auf Repressionsansätzen basiert.


Entkriminalisierung statt Legalisierung

Laut Cardoso soll ein Rauschgiftsüchtiger in erster Linie als eine Person erachtet werden, die medizinische HIlfe braucht, und nicht als Krimineller. Die Repression soll sich auf die organisierte Kriminalität konzentrieren, statt sich in der Verfolgung der Süchtigen zu verzetteln.

„In den USA sitzen rund eine halbe Million Personen im Gefängnis, die wegen einem Rauschgiftdelikt verurteilt sind. Das entspricht der Gesamtheit aller in Europa in Gefängnissen Untergebrachten“, so der Brasilianer im weiteren. Dennoch sei in den USA der Widerstand gegen eine Änderung der Drogenpolitik am grössten.

An ihrem Treffen in Genf haben die Politiker begonnen, eine globale Kommission auf die Beine zu stellen (Global commission on drug policy), weil hier in Europa die Länder im Kampf gegen die Drogen weniger ideologisch vorgingen als die USA.

Doch auch hier entfalle ein Grossteil des drogenpolitischen Budgets auf Repression statt auf soziale (Wieder-)Eingliederung und gesundheitliche Aspekte der Süchtigen.


Bezug zur Drogenpolitik in der Schweiz

Die Schweizerische Drogenpolitik dient dabei als Referenzpunkt für die Kommission, die sich auch auf Erfahrungen in den Niederlanden oder Portugal abstützt.

Ruth Dreifuss, ehemalige Schweizer Bundespräsidentin und Gesundheitsministerin, erklärt, weshalb der Schweizer Ansatz die Lateinamerikaner interessiert: „Die Drogenpolitik in der Schweiz ist etappenmässig vorgegangen. Eine Art Evolution, basierend auf gemachten Erfahrungen. Zum Beispiel bei der ärztlichen Verschreibung von Heroin, wobei die Resultate wissenschaftlich untersucht wurden.“ Die Folgerungen daraus seien dann die Revision des Gesetzes eingeflossen. Das habe auch dazu geführt, dass die Bevölkerung die gesetzlichen Änderungen 2006 abgesegnet habe.

Dieser pragmatische Ansatz mit den vier Säulen Prävention, Therapie, Reduktion der Risiken beim Konsumieren und Repression weckt im Ausland umso mehr Interesse, als die Schweiz „für ihre solide konservative Einstellung“ bekannt sei, wie das ein Bericht der Open Society schreibt. Die Open Society ist eine Nichtregierungsorganisation, die vom Financier Georges Soros gegründet wurde und welche die diese Woche in Genf gegründete Kommission unterstützt.


Kampf gegen das Rauchen

Die neu gegründete, stark vernetzte Kommission möchte Vereinigungen unterstützen, die im Bereich der Drogen aktiv sind, und die Länder auffordern, breite Diskussionen über dieses noch als Tabu erachtete Thema zu entfachen. Auch will sie die Regierungen überzeugen, dass es nur mit Repression nicht mehr weitergehen kann.

Zu diesem Zweck will die Kommission die bestehenden wissenschaftlichen Erkenntnisse in die Öffentlichkeit bringen und neue Instrumente gegen Drogen vorschlagen, wie Prävention oder Risikoreduktion.

Sie möchte sich ausserdem von den Kampagnen inspirieren lassen, die gegen Tabak und das Rauchen geführt werden, und die erwiesenermassen den Zigarettenkonsum vermindern konnten. Um die Macht der Drogenkartelle zu mindern, muss die Zahl der Süchtigen verringert werden.


Länder des Südens sind überflutet

Der Ursprung dieser Kommission ist Südamerika, doch möchte sie ihre Repräsentativität verbreitern und Vertreter aus allen Weltregionen integrieren.

Für nächsten Juni ist eine Zusammenkunft in den USA geplant. Dabei soll ein Aktionsplan festgeschrieben werden, der die USA und die UNO dazu bewegen soll, ihre Rauschgiftpolitik radikal zu ändern.

Denn es zeichnet sich ab, dass in den westlichen Ländern der Drogenkonsum sich langsam zu stabilisieren beginnt, während der Verbrauch in vielen Ländern des Südens stark zunimmt.


Frédéric Burnand, swissinfo.ch
(Übertragung aus dem Französischen: Alexander Künzle)

SPIEGEL-Report über den Drogen- und Waffenschmuggel zwischen den USA und Mexiko

Die USA erleben die größte Rauschgift-Invasion ihrer Geschichte. Heroin und Marihuana werden tonnenweise von Mexiko über die Grenze verschoben — im Tausch gegen Millionen Dollar und Waffen. Im Polizeiverhör gestand einer der größten Drogenhändler, auf Weisung des Geheimdienstes CIA gearbeitet zu haben.

Der Mann lag nackt auf dem Fußboden. Die Hände waren auf dem Rücken gefesselt, die Fuße an den Gelenken zusammengebunden. Augen und Mund hatte man mit Heftpflaster verklebt. Vor ihm kniete Comandante Florencia Ventura und hielt dem Gefangenen eine zuvor heftig geschüttelte, dann jäh geöffnete Sprudelflasche an die Nasenlöcher — neueste Verhörmethode der mexikanischen Bundespolizei.

Das herausschießende Kohlensäuregas führt zu Erstickungsanfällen, im Gehirn können Äderchen platzen. Kein Arzt kann später nachweisen, daß der Gefolterte nicht an Gehirnschlag gestorben ist.

Der Nackte im Nebengebäude des Vierten Polizeireviers in Mexico City war Alberto Sicilia Falcón, 32. — Er starb nicht, aber was er dem Polizeioffizier nach der Folter in die Maschine diktierte, löste 104 Anklagen und Verhaftungen in den USA und Zentralamerika aus und hat für Mexikos Innenpolitik und sein Verhältnis zu den USA noch nicht absehbare Folgen.

Alberto Sicilia gab an, Agent des amerikanischen Auslandsgeheimdienstes CIA gewesen zu sein und in dessen Auftrag einen Rauschgiftring aufgebaut zu haben, der mexikanisches Heroin und Marihuana in die USA und von dem Gewinn auf Verlangen der CIA Waffen an mittelamerikanische Guerilla-Organisationen lieferte.

Ziel der Operation: „Destabilisierung“ von unbequemen Regimen in Zentralamerika, die, gefährdet durch die aufgerüsteten Guerillas, gegen US-Militärhilfe dann den Amerikanern gewünschte politische Konzessionen machen mußten. Finanziert wurde die Unternehmung, so der Häftling, durch amerikanische Pusher, Fixer und Kokser.

Was sich wie die abenteuerliche Erfindung eines in die Enge getriebenen Dealers anhörte, gewann im Verlauf der weiteren Untersuchung manche realen Konturen. Zurückgehaltene Polizeiberichte und amtliche Protokolle, die der SPIEGEL in Mexiko einsehen konnte, stützen Sicilias Erzählungen über die abenteuerliche Vermengung von Drogenkriminalität und geheimdienstlichen Aktivitäten im Verhältnis zwischen den USA und ihrem südlichen Nachbarn.

Alberto Sicilia ist nicht irgendein kleiner Ganove, sondern Chef der einflußreichsten unter jenen sieben „Mafia“-Familien, die sich das Milliarden-Geschäft mit mexikanischem Rauschgift teilen.

Seine Organisation schmuggelte nach Schätzungen der amerikanischen Drogenbekämpfungsbehörde DEA wöchentlich für „3,6 Millionen Dollar Rauschgift“ in die USA und beschäftigte laut Aussage des DEA-Direktors Peter Bensinger „über 1600 Personen, darunter Filmstars, Toreros und internationale Geschäftsleute“, die in den USA und in Mittelamerika „Rauschgift für mehrere Hundert Millionen Dollar verschoben“.

Sicilia selbst führte seine Geschäfte von drei komfortablen Wohnsitzen in Mexiko und zwei Villen in den USA aus. Zum Zeitpunkt seiner Verhaftung verfügte er über zwei Rolls-Royce, einen 3.0-Liter-BMW, einen Mercedes 450 SL und ein zweimotoriges Flugzeug vom Typ Beechcraft Duke.

Seine Geschäftsbeziehungen reichten von Kolumbien über Korsika bis nach Chicago. Als man ihn verhaftete, hatte er je einen gültigen kubanischen, mexikanischen und amerikanischen Paß sowie zwei Schweizer Bankbücher bei sich, die zusammen über 260 Millionen Dollar Guthaben (DEA-Bericht) auswiesen.

Die mexikanische Tageszeitung „El Sol de México“ fragte: „Wie konnte ein junger Exilkubaner in nur zweieinhalb Jahren ein derartiges Imperium aufbauen — ohne Hilfe einer großen Organisation?“

Der 1944 in Matanzas auf Kuba geborene Alberto Sicilia Falcón verließ die Karibikinsel kurz nach der Machtübernahme Fidel Castros 1959. Der Flüchtling lebte zuerst in Emigrantenkreisen in Miami und wurde schließlich von der amerikanischen CIA in Fort Jackson als potentieller Partisan gegen das Castro-Regime ausgebildet.

Nach der mißlungenen Invasion in der Schweinebucht 1961, die den Sturz des Kommunisten Castro zum Ziel hatte, verlieren sich die Spuren Sicilias. Nach Vermutungen der mexikanischen Polizei soll er für die CIA in Chile gegen die Regierung des Sozialisten Allende gearbeitet haben und Anfang 1973 in die USA zurückgekehrt sein.

In Miami konnte die amerikanische DEA auch die erste Spur des auf Drogenhandel umgestiegenen Kubaners aufnehmen, die schließlich zwei Jahre später zu seiner Verhaftung führte.

Im Frühjahr 1973 trafen sich bei der amerikanischen Schauspielerin Mercedes C., 36, im angemieteten Bungalow Nr. 36 Palm Drive, Miami, der Grieche Carlos Kyriakides und der mexikanische Torero Gastón Santos.

Der Grieche, so glaubt die DEA nach dem Geständnis eines US-Dealers, hatte einen Rolls-Royce von Frankreich über London nach Miami gebracht, in dessen Türen und Bodenverschalung sich jeweils 15 Kilogramm Heroin und Kokain in Plastikschläuchen befanden.

Die Schauspielerin, die nach Angaben der mexikanischen Polizei über zwanzig verschiedene Pässe auf verschiedene Namen besitzt, verwies den Griechen und seine kostbare Fracht — Marktwert in den USA: fünf Millionen Dollar — an einen potenten Abnehmer: Alberto Sieilia Falcón, der in der mexikanischen Grenzstadt Tijuana „in einer festungsähnlichen, von Hunden bewachten Villa“, so der DEA-Bericht, Quartier genommen hatte.

Die Stadt Tijuana im Nordwesten des Landes, nahe den USA, war neben Culiacán und Mexicali Hauptumschlagplatz für Rauschgift „made in Mexiko“ geworden, seit die Türkei auf Druck Washingtons 1971 den bis dahin legalen Mohnanbau verboten hatte und damit der Drogenzufluß aus Europa nahezu versiegt war.

Die rauhe Bergwelt der Sierra Madre Occidental — zweimal so groß wie die Bundesrepublik und bis zu dreitausend Meter hoch — ist für die Rauschgiftproduktion wie geschaffen: Im Bergklima können auf einem Feld Marihuana im August/September und Mohn im Februar/März gedeihen. Die Transportwege zu den Abnehmern in den amerikanischen Großstädten sind kurz und die dreitausend Kilometer lange Grenze zwischen beiden Staaten leicht zu überwinden.

Vor allem aber ließen sich „in diesem Pancho-Villa-Land“**, so der US-Reporter Dan Rosen in einem Rauschgiftreport über Mexiko, „ohne Straßen und mit kümmerlicher Heimindustrie“ Politiker und Polizisten durch die Mordida, das landesübliche Bestechungsgeld, leicht korrumpieren. Sieben „Familien“ kontrollieren den Drogenhandel.

Bitterarme Indiobauern fanden zum erstenmal in ihrer elenden Geschichte ein auskömmliches Leben. Denn ein Kilo Rohopium — die Ernte eines Hektars — brachte ihnen 5000 Mark netto — fast zehnmal soviel wie der Anbau von Getreide und Bohnen.

Als Heroin („Mexican Brown“) kostet es schon 60 000 Mark, und in New York, zwischen der 117. und der 125. Straße, erbrachte es, mit Zusätzen gestreckt, fast eine Viertelmillion.

Schon vor dem Vertrag mit der Türkei und der Zerstörung der französischen Labors und Verteilerringe — genannt „French Connection“ — hatten die ersten Rauschgiftspezialisten der US-Mafia den mexikanischen Bergindios den Mohnanbau beigebracht.

Unter ihrer kundigen Anleitung verbrannten die Bauern den Hochwald und begannen im Oktober mit der Aussaat der „amapola“, des Mohns.

„Gomeros“ — Gummimänner — zeigten ihnen, wie sie mit einem rasiermesserscharfen Krummeisen die Mohnkapsel schneckenförmig anritzen, damit der weiße Kapselsaft ausblutet, um an der Luft zu knetbarem braunem Rohopium zu gerinnen.

Und als 1973 der amerikanische Präsident Nixon triumphierend den absehbaren Sieg über die Heroinplage verkündete („… endlich haben wir die Kurve beim Drogenhandel genommen“), war an die Stelle der lahmgelegten „French Connection“ längst die neue „Mexican Connection“ getreten: sieben Drogenhändlerringe, die den gesamten einschlägigen Handel von der Aussaat des Mohns bis zu den Abnehmern in Chicago und New York, in Los Angeles und Miami kontrollierten und die verantwortlich sind für die „größte Drogenepidemie in Amerikas Geschichte“ (Dan Rosen in der US-Zeitschrift „Penthouse“).

Wie die italienisch-amerikanische Mafia aufgebaut, tragen die Ringe die Namen ihrer meist mexikanischen Gründer oder ihrer Chefs: Es sind die „Favelas“, die „Macías““ die „Herreras“, die „Valenzuelas“, die „Romeros“, die „Avilés-Quinteros“ und als mächtigster Ring: die „Sicilia Falcóns“.

Auf den Namen Sicilia stießen die DEA-Beamten bei der Verfolgung des

* Durch ihn brach Sicilia am 26. April 1976 aus. ** Pancho Villa, eigentlich Doroteo Arango, 1878 bis 1920; mexikanischer Revolutionsheld.

Griechen Kyriakides und seines Rauschgift-Rolls-Royce von Miami nach Tijuana. Doch es dauerte über ein Jahr, bis sich die amerikanische Rauschgiftbehörde einigermaßen Klarheit über das Ausmaß der Sicilia-Geschäfte verschaffen konnte.

Voraussetzung war eine enge Zusammenarbeit mit der mexikanischen Bundespolizei. „Wir beobachteten alle amerikanischen Aktivitäten der Sicilia-Organisation und tauschten im „Janus-Programm“ mit Mexikos Bundespolizei alle Informationen aus“, sagte DEA-Direktor Bensinger Anfang dieses Jahres.

Seine Rauschgiftagenten machten zwei Operationsbasen in den USA aus: Sicilias Haus in Coronado Cays, US-Bundesstaat Kalifornien, als zentrale Verteilerstelle für Marihuana und eine weitere Villa in einem Vorort von San Diego — Verteilerstelle für Heroin.

Auf der mexikanischen Seite schließlich entdeckten der oberste mexikanische Drogenfahnder Dr. Alejandro Gertz Manaro — Spitzname „der Preuße“ — und seine „Federales

wegen ihrer schießwütigen Aktionen von amerikanischen DEA-Kollegen „Gertzstapo“ genannt — drei Verteilerzentren der Sicilia-Familie:

Ein Haus in Culiacán als Sammelstelle für Heroin, eine Fabrikhalle in Mexicali, in deren Kellern Marihuana für den Weitertransport gelagert wurde, und die Zentrale der gesamten Geschäftigkeit: Sicilias Villa in Tijuana.

Die Operationen der Familie spielten sich so ab: Von Culiacán aus bereisten Kuriere die Indiodörfer in der Sierra Madre und boten den Bergbauern schon vor der jeweiligen Ernte einen Festpreis pro Kilo. Jedes dritte Dorf erhielt von der Familie einen Generator für die Infrarotlampen, die den Trocknungsprozeß des „goma“, des braunen gummiartigen Rohopiums, beschleunigten.

Kurz nach dem ersten Anschneiden der reifen Kapseln — sie können bis zu viermal in einer Saison angeritzt werden — transportierte die Dorfgemeinschaft das Opium auf Eseln zu einer planierten Dschungelpiste, wo vor Einbruch der Dunkelheit Flugzeuge den „Stoff“ abholten und den Lohn — etwa 5000 Mark pro Kilogramm Goma — im gleichen Ort zurückließen.

Eine Unze Heroin für ein Schnellfeuergewehr.

Marihuana lieferten die Dörfler versandfertig. Die Blätter der Hanfstauden, im August/September geschnitten und getrocknet, wurden noch im Bergdorf von Alten und Kindern mit hydraulischen Wagenhebern zu handlichen Ein-Kilo-Packungen gepreßt und in Ölpapier und Plastikhüllen verpackt.

Auf den Ranchos „Tamuin“ und „Garragaliote“ — im Besitz des mexikanischen Toreros und Großgrundbesitzers Gastón Santos — wurde das Rauschgift in zwei- und viermotorige Flugzeuge umgeladen, „beschützt und kontrolliert von der 1500 Mann starken Leibwache des Toreros“ (DEA-Bericht) und in die USA geflogen oder bei Schlechtwetter per Lastwagen nach Mexicali und Tijuana gefahren.

In Tijuana — vom Haus des Unterführers Julio Bello Guinart, laut Polizeibericht „bewacht von zwei ausgewachsenen Löwen“ — wurde das Marihuana gleich tonnenweise in die USA verladen.

Mindestens zehnmal im Monat fuhren zwei blau-weiß-grüne Tankwagen — offiziell Benzin-Transporter — drei Tonnen Marihuana auf dem Interstate Highway Nr. 5 von Tijuana nach San Diego.

Und von den Kellern der stillgelegten Fabrik in Mexicali brausten wöchentlich zwei Container-Lastzüge à zwanzig Tonnen mit falsch deklarierter Fracht — auf der Touristenstraße Nr. 86 durch das Imperial Valley nach Los Angeles.

„Per Tonne brachte das der Organisation 140 000 Dollar“, ärgerte sich Peter Bensinger.

Auch kleine Geschäfte ließ sich die Sicilia-Familie nicht entgehen. „Das Zeug kommt über die Grenze in kaum vorstellbaren Verstecken“, klagte ein US-Zöllner auf dem Interstate Highway vor San Diego.

„Selbst biedere Hausfrauen verbergen es im kleinen Grenzverkehr in ihren Wagen und verdienen sich so ein beträchtliches Zubrot zum Familienbudget.“

Ausgerüstet mit falschen Papieren (Marktpreis in Tijuana 125 Dollar, laufende Anfangsnummer ID 151 …) fahren unverdächtig aussehende Chauffeure — Branchenjargon „burros“ (Esel) — inmitten von Touristen zur Grenze. Vor ihnen fährt meist ein „Familienmitglied“, das die Zollkontrolle beobachtet und etwa 15 Kilometer hinter der Grenze den „Stoff“ übernimmt und das Frachtgeld — zwischen 500 und 2000 Dollar — bar übergibt. Geschmuggelt wird das Heroin in Benzintanks, in den Türverkleidungen, in präparierten Koffern und Autoreifen oder in zusätzlichen Auspuffrohren. Etwa 30 Pfund wechseln so pro Fahrt über die Grenze.

In den Basen der Familie in San Diego und Los Angeles schließlich wird das 60prozentige braune Pulver mit Milchzucker auf etwa die doppelte Menge gestreckt und als dreißigprozentige „Ware“ an die örtlichen Verteiler. ringe mit hundertprozentigem Preisaufschlag weiterverkauft.

Wenn es endlich den New Yorker „Junkie“ erreicht, ist es nur noch zu zehn Prozent rein und kostet sechzig Dollar pro Viertelunze.

Trotz all dieser mühsam zusammengetragenen Details über seine Organisation konnte Sicilia selbst Anfang 1975 immer noch nicht verhaftet werden.

„Wir wußten zwar vieles, aber alle Spuren endeten bei seinen Mitarbeitern. Sicilia selbst konnten wir nichts nachweisen“, klagte der Chefermittler der mexikanischen „Gertzstapo“, Comandante Díaz Laredo, 33.

Ein DEA-Kollege in Mexico-City jedoch beurteilt die Lage anders: „Die haben doch nur halbherzig und mehr auf die Manana-Tour mitgemacht. Aufgewacht sind sie erst, als sie sich durch den steigenden Waffenschmuggel bedroht fühlten.“

Tatsächlich zeigte sich Mexikos Regierung wesentlich kooperationsbereiter, als sie im Rahmen des „Janus-Programms“ von der amerikanischen DEA informiert wurde, daß die Sicilia-Familie in ihren Lastwagen und Flugzeugen Waffen nach Mexiko zurückbrachte.

Die Regierung Echeverría gab daraufhin dem Drängen der Amerikaner nach und ließ die „Operation Clearview“ zu: US-Aufklärungsflugzeuge photographierten mit Spezialfilmen und Filtern aus großer Höhe die Gebirgszüge der Sierra Madre. Mohn und Hanffelder erschienen auf den Photos in bestimmten Farben. Danach starteten Sprühhubschrauber, die mit dem Pflanzenvernichtungsmittel „Gramoxone“ die so ausgemachten Giftfelder zerstörten.

Es war eine nicht ganz ungefährliche Arbeit für die vietnamerfahrenen Hubschrauberpiloten. Inzwischen hatten die Rauschgiftfamilien nämlich „ihre Dörfler“ mit modernen Waffen ausgerüstet: Soldaten und Piloten wurden bei den Einsätzen oft mit Schnellfeuergewehren beschossen.

Je härter die Mexikaner gegen die Rauschgifthändler vorgingen. desto mehr wuchs deren Bedarf an Waffen. Nur, daß jetzt Rauschgift, statt gegen Bargeld, gegen Gewehre, Granaten und Dynamit den Besitzer wechselte. Der neue Kurs: eine Unze Heroin gegen ein Schnellfeuergewehr.

Denn dem Millionenheer der Indios auf den kargen Berghängen, die jahrhundertelang in Arbeitslosigkeit, Analphabetentum und Unterernährung dahinvegetierten, hatte der Handel mit dem Rauschgift einen Ausweg aus der Misere eröffnet — und ihren neuen Reichtum verteidigten sie nun mit dem Gewehr.

Doch nicht nur an die Bergbauern lieferte die Sicilia-Familie Waffen. Auch linke Guerrilleros, wie die „Bewegung des 23. September“, verfügten plötzlich über moderne US-Schnellfeuergewehre vom Typ M-16.

Und Guatemalas linke Revoluzzer setzen in ihrem Kampf gegen die Regierungstruppen neuerdings panzerbrechende Gewehrraketen und Infrarotzielfernrohre „made in USA“ ein.

Ende 1973 beschlagnahmte der US-Zoll am San-Ysidro-Grenzübergang nach Mexiko einen Lastwagen der Sicilia-Familie, der 60 M-1-Gewehre, 240 Magazine und 8425 Schuß Munition vom Kaliber 30 an Guerrilleros in Nicaragua liefern sollte.

Und nach Untersuchungen des „Büros für Alkohol, Tabak und Waffen“ im US-Schatzamt lieferte 1974 allein ein illegaler Waffenhändler in Brownsville (Texas) von seinem als Lebensmittelgeschäft getarnten Umschlagplatz — Name: „Villa Verde Food Store“ — an die Sicilia-Familie über zwölf Millionen Schuß Munition.

Die Waffengeschäfte liefen so gut, daß Sicilia und sein Partner Gastón Santos Ende 1974 schließlich mit US-Firmen über die Herstellungsrechte an vollautomatischen Waffen verhandelten, die „bei revolutionären Aktivitäten in Mittel- und Südamerika eingesetzt werden sollten“ (DEA-Bericht).

Diese Information endlich beseitigte bei den Mexikanern alle Vorbehalte gegen das DEA-Engagement im Lande. „Aus dem rein amerikanischen Drogenproblem war plötzlich eine politische Bedrohung für Mexiko geworden“, meinte ein Narkotik-Beamter in der US-Botschaft in Mexikos Prachtstraße Paseo de la Reforma. „Die Angst vor einem Bürgerkrieg war stärker als die Befürchtung, daß unsere Aufklärungsflugzeuge nicht nur nach Mohnfeldern Ausschau hielten, sondern mit ihren Spezialkameras auch strategisch wichtige Bodenschätze wie Öl und Uran aufspüren konnten.“

Die Amerikaner durften jetzt ihre DEA-Niederlassung in Mexikos Hauptstadt auf 34 Beamte verstärken und Sicilia auch im Nachbarland rund um die Uhr überwachen. 1975 schließlich entdeckte Mexikos damaliger Innenminister persönlich in Cuernavaca, 90 Kilometer südlich von Mexico City, eine neue Verbindung Sicilias: Er schickte eine Limonadenflasche mit den Fingerabdrücken seines Landhausnachbarn“ der verdächtig häufig mit Sicilias Wohnsitz in San Diego telephoniert hatte, an das FBI.

Antwort der amerikanischen Bundespolizei: Die Fingerprints gehörten dem Chicagoer Mafiaboß Sam Giancana, der auf der Flucht vor der US-Steuerbehörde in Mexiko untergetaucht war.

Ein internationales Auslieferungsersuchen der französischen Polizei führte zur Ausweisung Giancanas. Bei der Zwischenlandung des Fluges Nr. 066 der Air France von Mexico City nach Paris wurde der Mafiaboß vom FBI in Houston (Texas) aus dem Jumbo-Jet geholt.

Nach mehrtägigen Verhören plauderte Giancana so nebenbei aus, daß er einst im Auftrage der CIA ein Attentat auf Fidel Castro versucht habe.

Er selbst habe damals aus seiner Privatschatulle neunzigtausend Dollar zusätzlich zum CIA-Geld investiert, um den Kubaner mit einer vergifteten Zigarre zu beseitigen. Noch bevor er diese Aussage vor einem Untersuchungsausschuß des US-Senats wiederholen konnte, wurde Giancana in seiner Chicagoer Wohnung im Juni 1975 erschossen. Gerüchte machen noch heute die CIA für seine Exekution verantwortlich. Beamte aus dem Innenministerium in Mexiko behaupten, daß der amerikanische Geheimdienst die Ausweisung seines redefreudigen Ex-Mitarbeiters Giancana verhindern wollte.

Zur selben Zeit auch hatte sich der mexikanische Innenminister zur Verhaftung von Sicilia entschlossen. Am Abend des 2. Juli 1975 umstellten „Federales“ das Haus Nieve 108 im exklusiven Hauptstadtviertel Jardines del Pedregal de San Angel. Dort gab die Schauspielerin Irma Serrano, genannt „La Tigresa“, die Tigerin, zu Ehren ihres Freundes Sicilia eine Party. Als die Polizisten an der Tür klingelten, hetzte der Fahrer Sicilias drei scharfe Hunde auf sie. Erst als ein Polizist ihm die Pistole an die Schläfe setzte, pfiff er die Tiere zurück.

Anonymer Tip aus der US-Botschaft.

Im Haus jedoch fand die Polizei nur zehn Gramm Kokain, und auch die Durchsuchung des Sicilia-Wohnsitzes in der nahen Calle Aqua 754 erbrachte keine Beweise, um den Ringchef länger als 48 Stunden in Untersuchungshaft zu halten.

Erst Sicilias Geständnis nach der Folter durch den Bundespolizisten Florencia Ventura lieferte den Behörden genug Material, um ihn für längere Zeit ins Untersuchungsgefängnis von Lecumberri einzuliefern — einen schmutzigen Sandsteinbau aus dem 19. Jahrhundert.

Mit ihm verhaftet wurden sein kubanischer Freund Egozzi, der Italiener Zuccoli, der Grieche Kyriakides und der Amerikaner Ruby.

Die mexikanische Regierung bewahrte jedoch Stillschweigen über die angeblichen CIA-Verbindungen des Alberto Sieilia, mit denen er nach der Folter herausgerückt war.

Mexikos damaliger Präsident Echeverría machte nur ab und zu dunkle Andeutungen. „Kräfte von außen versuchen unser Land zu destabilisieren“, behauptete er 1975 in Chiapas, und „die amerikanische Regierung ist nicht schuldlos an Mexikos Schwierigkeiten“, erklärte er im Frühjahr 1976 vor Industriellen in Monterrey, dem Ruhrgebiet Mexikos.

In der Umgebung des Präsidenten erinnerte man sich, daß der US-Geheimdienst schon einmal in Rauschgiftgeschäfte en gros verwickelt war: Während des Vietnamkrieges flogen Maschinen der CIA-finanzierten Luftlinie Air America Rauschgift in riesigen Mengen aus Laos nach Saigon, von wo es seinen Weg in US-Mafiakanäle fand, zum Teil in so makabrer Verpackung wie den in die Heimat geflogenen Leichen gefallener Gis. Millionen aus diesem Geschäft flossen auch in die Taschen vietnamesischer Generale.

Schon damals wußte eine amerikanische Regierungsstelle nicht, was die andere tat, wurde die in Südostasiens Dschungeln kämpfende US-Armee durch Drogen demoralisiert, die in Air-America-Flugzeugen herangeschafft worden waren.

„Nur so läßt sich auch das Gegeneinander von DEA und CIA im Fall Sicilia erklären“, mutmaßt ein ehemaliger Echeverría-Berater in Mexiko.

Die Geschäfte Sicilias jedenfalls liefen trotz seiner Festnahme vom altersschwachen Lecumberri-Gefängnis aus ungehindert weiter. Die Schauspielerin Mercedes C. besuchte ihn regelmäßig — empfing Anordnungen und sorgte mit entsprechenden Bestechungsgeldern dafür, daß seine Zelle mit Fernseher, Kühlschrank und Teppichen ausgestattet wurde.

Die Frau organisierte nach Vermutung der amerikanischen Polizei auch die spektakuläre Flucht Sicilias und seiner Kumpane.

In der Nacht zum 26. April 1976 verschwanden Sicilia, Egozzi, Ruby und Zuccoli durch einen mit elektrischem Licht ausgerüsteten Tunnel

der aus der Sicilia-Zelle 97 Meter unter der Gefängnismauer hindurch in die Küche eines Nachbarhauses führte.

Doch die Freiheit währte nur drei Tage. Dann erhielt Mexikos oberster Rauschgiftfahnder Dr. Gertz Manaro einen anonymen Anruf von einem Telephonapparat aus der US-Botschaft: Egozzi und Ruby wurden in einem Billighotel im Norden der Stadt verhaftet — Sicilia im Haus Nr. 73 in der Calle Quemada vom Cheffahnder Díaz Laredo gestellt. Sicilia wartete dort offensichtlich auf den Abtransport durch Helfer.

Als der Rauschgifthändler erfuhr, woher der Hinweis auf sein Versteck gekommen war, reagierte er geschockt. „Sicilia hatte begriffen, daß ihn die CIA fallengelassen hatte“, behauptete ein mexikanischer Rauschgiftfahnder, der bei der Verhaftung anwesend war.

Zehn Tage später, am 9. Mai, erklärte Sicilia vor einem Untersuchungsrichter: „Ich habe Angst, daß die CIA oder der kubanische Geheimdienst, oder mexikanische Polizisten in deren Auftrag mich umbringen.“ Seither verweigert er eine Verlegung in ein anderes Gefängnis und verlangte für seine Zelle im neuen Gefängnis „Reclusorio Norte“ eine Sonderbewachung.

Seither auch werden alle Besuchsanträge für Sicilia abgewiesen, die mexikanische Gefängnisverwaltung verbot dem SPIEGEL ein Interview mit ihm in letzter Minute. Begründung des Direktors Dr. Núnez Chávez: „Ein Gespräch könnte seine Resozialisierung gefährden.“

Auch Sicilias Anwalt, Licenciado Enrique Ostos, der im 7. Stock der Avenida Morelos residiert, lehnte jede Auskunft ab.

Ein Kommentator der Zeitung „Excelsior“: „Alle sind interessiert, daß der Fall nicht hochgekocht wird. Sicilia ist eine Belastung für die mexikanischamerikanischen Beziehungen und der lebende Beweis dafür, daß die Regierung in Washington unser Land wäh-

* Amerikaner und Mexikaner versuchen den steckengebliebenen wagen auf das eigene Staatsgebiet zu ziehen.

rend der Regierungszeit des auf die Blockfreiheit Mexikos pochenden Präsidenten Echeverría unter Druck setzen wollte. Nach dem Präsidentenwechsel in Mexiko und in Washington paßt Sieilias Geständnis einfach nicht mehr in die politische Landschaft.“

Der ehemalige Berater des mexikanischen Ex-Präsidenten Echeverría urteilt verbittert: „Der Sicilia-Fall ist ein Lehrstück für Großmachtpolitik. War eine Regierung nicht zu Konzessionen an Washington bereit, rüstete die CIA über die Sicilia-Organisation ihre militanten Gegner mit Waffen auf. Geriet das aufmüpfige Regime danach in innenpolitische Bedrängnis, lieferte das offizielle Washington schnelle Hilfe — natürlich gegen politische oder wirtschaftliche Konzessionen. Und das alles finanziert durch Amerikas Süchtige.“

Und ein Reporter der überregionalen Tageszeitung „El Sol de México“ bedauerte: „Die neue Regierung López Portillo ist nicht an einer Publizität interessiert. Sie wird Sicilia im Rahmen eines zwischenstaatlichen Häftlingsaustausches schnellstens in die USA abschieben.“

Doch selbst bis dahin (das Gesetz über den Häftlingsaustausch mit den USA tritt frühestens im Sommer 1977 in Kraft) stehen die Überlebenschancen für den sprachgewandten Sicilia — er spricht fließend Italienisch, Spanisch, Französisch, Englisch und Deutsch — schlecht.

Ein mexikanischer Narkotikagent ist sich sicher: „Gewiß wird er noch vorher hier umgelegt. Denn Sicilia hat gegen das Redeverbot verstoßen, das sowohl für die Mafia als auch für die CIA gilt“

We read of it nearly every day: Mexico appears to be imploding. Murders, assassinations of local politicians, kidnappings. A war between the drug cartels which acted with what appeared — from the outside at least — to be governmental neglect if not permission, and the presidency of Felipe Calderon who has taken them on. In August, 72 migrants were slaughtered, apparently by one or more drug cartels (a lone survivor said they identified themselves as the Zetas drug cartel) and President Calderon said „the drug gangs are carrying out more extortions and kidnappings of migrants as their resources and recruits dwindle.“ He also said that government crackdowns on the cartels have significantly weakened them. Perhaps, but it appears to me that Mexico, with its dismal crime solution numbers — local populations do not even call the police — is on the verge of massive unrest if not open insurrection. This is a terrifying prospect to those unfortunate Mexican citizens who have to live with it, and it is to some extent, the fault of the United States. We are their customers, and we create the demand. In a country as economically deprived as Mexico, it is no surprise that „companies“ — cartels — have sprung up to reap the rewards of the enormous profit in illegal drug sales.

I recently wrote about the prison industrial complex, and talked about the economic incentives to incarcerate, among other things. And there are economic incentives to make this „war“ on drugs — there is profit in it for a lot of people. Have we learned nothing from our experiment with prohibition of alcohol? As Professor Duke tells us in his article about drug prohibition, what our government told us when it imposed drug prohibition isn’t true at all. In fact „most illegal recreational drugs have no pharmacological properties that produce violence or other criminal behavior. Heroin and marijuana diminish rather than increase aggressive behavior. Cocaine-or cocaine withdrawal-occasionally triggers violence but usually does not. Very little crime is generated by the mere use of these drugs, especially in comparison to alcohol, which is causally related to thousands of homicides and hundreds of thousands of assaults annually. The major linkages between illegal drugs and crime must be found elsewhere — in prohibition.“ (From Volume 27 of the Connecticut Law Review)

When we banned the sale of alcohol during prohibition, there was anarchy in the streets, crime rose alarmingly, people drank anyway, and criminals made a fortune. That is what is happening now, on our streets where drugs are sold, in Mexico, and the halls of our high schools, and I fear our junior high schools too. Many terrorist organization function based on illegal drug trade profits. Drug prohibition hasn’t worked, will not work and is destroying us from within.

I am not alone in this view. The former president of Mexico, Vicente Fox, has spoken about it. So has a group of law enforcement officers: Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP). LEAP is an organization which, while it does not promote the use of drugs and is deeply concerned about the extent of drug abuse worldwide, is also deeply concerned with the destructive impact of violent drug gangs and cartels everywhere in the world. LEAP’s position is that neither problem is remedied by the current policy of drug prohibition. Indeed, drug abuse and gang violence flourish in a drug prohibition environment, just as they did during alcohol prohibition in the US.

I know that there are people reading this who may say to themselves that legalizing drugs puts the government’s stamp of approval on drug abuse, but that’s not true. Legalizing drugs will put the black market out of business; it will tax and regulate those drugs. We could funnel money from prohibition enforcement to treatment and use our law enforcement resources to solve other crimes.

And, frankly, I would prefer if it were as difficult for a ten-year-old child to purchase cocaine as it is a beer. At least she should have to have a fake ID and be able tall enough to reach over the counter

source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/andrea-lyon/prohibition-and-civil-unr_b_701261.html

Die USA befinden sich nicht nur im Irak und in Afghanistan im Krieg. Sie sind auch in den Drogenkampf in Mexiko involviert – einen Konflikt direkt vor ihrer Haustür, der buchstäblich mit ihren eigenen Waffen ausgetragen wird: 90 Prozent der Gewehre und Granaten stammen aus den USA.

Von Ralph Sina, WDR-Hörfunkstudio Washington

Drogenkrieg in Ciudad Juarez (Foto: AP) Großansicht des Bildes

[Bildunterschrift: Eine Szene wie aus einem Kriegsgebiet: Patrouille vor einer Bar in Ciudad Juarez. ]
Er ist in den US-Nachrichtensendungen ständig präsent: der Krieg der mexikanischen Drogenbanden, nur wenige Meilen entfernt von der Grenze zu den Bundesstaaten Kalifornien, Arizona, Texas und New Mexiko. Immer mehr US-Bürger ahnen: Ihr Land ist nicht nur in die Kriege im Irak und in Afghanistan verwickelt, sondern in einen noch viel blutigeren Konflikt direkt vor ihrer Haustür, ausgefochten mit regelrechten Kriegswaffen.

Großteil der Waffen stammt aus US-Produktion

Waffen (Foto: dpa) Großansicht des Bildes

[Bildunterschrift: 90 Prozent der im Drogenkrieg eingesetzten Waffen stammen aus den USA. ]
90 Prozent dieser Waffen – darunter Maschinengewehre, Granaten und ferngezündete Bomben – stammen aus US-amerikanischer Produktion und wurden von Mittelsmännern der Drogenbanden auf dem Territorium der USA gekauft. Für die 7000 staatlich lizensierten US-Waffenläden entlang der amerikanisch-mexikanischen Grenze ist der eskalierende Krieg ein höchst profitables Geschäft. Wie der US-Fernsehsender NBC berichtet, versorgen diese Waffenläden Mexikos Mörderbanden buchstäblich mit allem – einschließlich schwerer Maschinengewehre, für die es ja dank einer Entscheidung des US-Kongresses und der ehemaligen Bush-Administration kein Verkaufsverbot mehr gibt.

28.000 Tote in dreieinhalb Jahren

„Ich denke, das ist ein Fehler“, gibt US-Außenministerin Hillary Clinton zu, als sie nach den US-Waffenlieferungen an Mexikos Drogen dealende Massenmörder gefragt wird. 28.000 Menschen starben in den letzten dreieinhalb Jahren im Kugelhagel rivalisierender mexikanischer Banden, darunter auch mehrere US-Bürger. Die Obama-Regierung fürchtet, der mexikanische Nachbar könne schon bald ein ‚failed state‘ werden, ein anarchisches Gebilde mit unkalkulierbaren Folgen für die direkt angrenzenden US-Bundesstaaten. Doch die Waffenlobby der USA sorgt dafür, dass der Verkauf von Kriegsgerät an Privatpersonen weiterhin möglich ist – und damit auch der Export an Mexikos Drogenmilizen.

Die versprochene Hilfe lässt auf sich warten

Dennoch behauptet US-Präsident Barack Obama, die mexikanische Regierung könne bei ihrem Kampf gegen die Drogenmafia auf die volle Unterstützung des nördlichen Nachbarn zählen. Fast alle Güterzüge Richtung Süden würden zum Beispiel von US-Sicherheitsbehörden genau überprüft. Als Partner gebe man der mexikanischen Regierung eben, was sie zum Erfolg im Drogenkrieg brauche.

Drogenkrieg in Ciudad Juarez (Foto: AP) Großansicht des Bildes
[Bildunterschrift: Ein vermummter Polizeibeamter vor einem Hotel in Ciudad Juarez.]
Drogenkrieg in Ciudad Juarez (Foto: AP) Großansicht des Bildes
[Bildunterschrift: Soldaten überwachen die Vernichtung von Drogen im Feuer.]

Doch das sind nur schöne präsidiale Worte. Die 1,3 Milliarden Dollar, die der US-Kongress bereits 2008 zur Bekämpfung des Drogenschmuggels bewilligt hatte, liegen immer noch auf US-Staatskonten. Verzweifelt warten die mexikanischen Drogenbekämpfer auf die von den USA seit Langem versprochenen Helikopter, Überwachungsflugzeuge und Drohnen. Man werde den mexikanischen Behörden bei der Bekämpfung der Geldwäsche durch Drogendealer helfen, versprachen die USA.

Waffen für Drogen

Doch bisher ist kaum etwas geschehen – obwohl mexikanische Drogenkartelle mittlerweile auch in den USA zu den größten kriminellen Vereinigungen zählen, so der Fernsehsender NBC. Kein Wunder: Die USA sind nicht nur der Hauptlieferant der Waffen, sondern auch der Hauptabnehmer der Drogen.

Man werde jetzt neue Programme zur Bekämpfung der Drogennachfrage in den USA umsetzen, verspricht Obama. Doch das dürfte eher eine stumpfe Waffe im Kampf gegen Mexikos Drogenbarone bleiben. Die morden in letzter Zeit gerne mit ferngezündeten Autobomben, wie jüngst im mexikanischen Bundesstaat Tamaulipas – ganz nach dem Vorbild von Al Kaida.

With at least 25,000 people slaughtered in Mexico since President Felipe Calderón hurled the Mexican Army into the anti-cartel battle, three questions remain unanswered: Who is being killed, who is doing the killing and why are people being killed? This is apparently considered a small matter to US leaders in the discussions about failed states, narco-states and the false claim that violence is spilling across the border.

President Calderón has stated repeatedly that 90 percent of the dead are connected to drug organizations. The United States has silently endorsed this statement and is bankrolling it with $1.4 billion through Plan Mérida, the three-year assistance plan passed by the Bush administration in 2008. Yet the daily torrent of local press accounts from Ciudad Juárez makes it clear that most of the murder victims are ordinary Mexicans who magically morph into drug cartel members before their blood dries on the streets, sidewalks, vacant lots, pool halls and barrooms where they fall dead, riddled with bullets. Juárez is ground zero in this war: more than one-fourth of the 25,000 dead that the Mexican government admits to since December 2006 have occurred in this one border city of slightly over 1.5 million people, nearly 6,300 as of July 21, 2010. When three people attached to the US Consulate in Ciudad Juárez were killed in March this year, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the murders „the latest horrible reminder of how much work we have to do together.“

Just what is this work?
No one seems to know, but on the ground it is death. Calderón’s war, assisted by the United States, terrorizes the Mexican people, generates thousands of documented human rights abuses by the police and Mexican Army and inspires lies told by American politicians that violence is spilling across the border (in fact, it has been declining on the US side of the border for years).

We are told of a War on Drugs that has no observable effect on drug distribution, price or sales in the United States. We are told the Mexican Army is incorruptible, when the Mexican government’s own human rights office has collected thousands of complaints that the army robs, kidnaps, steals, tortures, rapes and kills innocent citizens. We are told repeatedly that it is a war between cartels or that it is a war by the Mexican government against cartels, yet no evidence is presented to back up these claims. The evidence we do have is that the killings are not investigated, that the military suffers almost no casualties and that thousands of Mexicans have filed affidavits claiming abuse, often lethal, by the Mexican army.

Here is the US policy in a nutshell: we pay Mexicans to kill Mexicans, and this slaughter has no effect on drug shipments or prices.

This war gets personal. A friend calls late at night from Juárez and says if he is murdered before morning, be sure to tell his wife. It never occurs to him to call the police, nor does it occur to you.

A friend who is a Mexican reporter flees to the United States because the Mexican Army has come to his house and plans to kill him for writing a news story that displeases the generals. He is promptly thrown into prison by the Department of Homeland Security because he is considered a menace to American society.

On the Mexican side, a mother, stepfather and pregnant daughter are chased down on a highway in the Valle de Juárez, and shot in their car, while two toddlers watch. On the US side, a man receives a phone call and his father tells him, „I’m dying, I’m dying, I’m dead.“ He hears his sister pleading for her life, „Don’t kill me. No don’t kill me.“ He thinks his niece and nephew are dead also, but they are taken to a hospital, sprayed with shattered glass. The little boy watched his mother die, her head blown apart by the bullets. A cousin waits in a parking lot surrounded by chainlink and razor-wire on the US side of the bridge for the bodies to be delivered so that he can bring them home. The next day, the family takes to the parking lots of two fast-food outlets in their hometown of Las Cruces, New Mexico, for a carwash. Young girls in pink shorts and T-shirts wave hand-lettered signs. They will wash your car and accept donations to help bury their parents and sister, to buy clothes for two small orphans. „This was just a family,“ says cousin Cristina, collecting donations in a zippered bag. She says they are in shock, the full impact of what happened has yet to sink in. So for now, they will raise the money they need to take care of the children. An American family.

Or, you visit the room where nine people were shot to death in August 2008 as they raised their arms to praise God during a prayer meeting. Forty hours later, flies buzz over what lingers in cracks in the tile floor and bloody handprints mark the wall. This was the scene of the first of several mass killings at drug rehab centers where at least fifty people have been massacred over the past two years in Juárez and Chihuahua City. An evangelical preacher who survived the slaughter that night said she saw a truckload of soldiers parked at the end of the street a hundred yards from the building and that the automatic rifle fire went on for fifteen minutes.
Or you talk with a former member of the Juárez cartel who is shocked to learn of a new cabinet appointment by President Calderón because he says he used to deliver suitcases of money to the man as payment from the Juárez cartel.

The claim that ninety percent of the dead are criminals seems at best to be self-delusion. In June 2010, El Universal, a major daily in Mexico City, noted that the federal government had investigated only 5 percent of the first 22,000 executions, according to confidential material turned over to the Mexican Senate by the Mexican Attorney General. What constituted an investigation was not explained

On June 21, Cronica, another Mexico City paper, presented a National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) study that examined more than 5,000 complaints filed by Mexican citizens against the army. Besides incidents of rape, murder, torture, kidnapping and robbery, the report described scenes like the following: „June 1, 2007, in the community of La Joya de los Martinez, Sinaloa de Leyva: Members of the Army were camped at the edge of the highway, drinking alcoholic beverages. Two of them were inebriated and probably under the influence of some drug. They opened fire against a truck that drove along the road carrying eight members of the Esparza Galaviz family. One adult and two minors died…The soldiers arranged sacks of decomposing marijuana on the vehicle that had been attacked and killed one of their own soldiers, whose body was arranged at the crime scene to indicate that the civilian drivers had been the aggressors and had killed the soldier.“

The CNDH also names the army as responsible for the shooting deaths of Martin and Brayan Almanza Salazar, aged 9 and 5, on April 3, 2010, as they traveled to the beach in Matamoros with their family. The only thing noteworthy about these cases is that they ever became public knowledge. Many more victims and survivors remain silent—afraid to report what has happened to them to any Mexican official or news reporter.

Such incidents pass unnoticed in the US press and apparently do not capture the attention of our government. Nor does the fact that in the midst of what is repeatedly called a war against drug cartels by both the American and Mexican governments and press, Mexican soldiers seem immune to bullets. With over 8,000 Mexicans killed in 2009 alone, the army reported losses of thirty-five that year. According to Reporters Without Borders, a total of sixty-seven journalists have been killed in Mexico since 2000, while eleven others have gone missing since 2003. Mexico is now one of the most dangerous places in the world to be reporter. And possibly the safest place in the world to be a soldier.

When there is a noteworthy massacre, the Mexican government says it proves the drug industry is crumbling. When there is a period of relative peace, the Mexican government says it shows their policy is winning. On the night of July 15, a remote-controlled car bomb exploded in downtown Juárez, killing at least three people—a federal policeman, a kidnap victim dressed in a police uniform and used as a decoy and a physician who rushed to the scene from his private office to help dozens of people injured in the blast. A graffiti message attributed the blast to the Juárez cartel and claimed it as a warning to police who work for the Sinaloa cartel.
On July 20, the Mexican ambassador to the United States, Arturo Sarukhan, minimized the Juárez bombing, saying that it was not aimed indiscriminately at civilians and that it did not indicate any escalation in violence. He parroted the declaration of Mexican Attorney General Arturo Chávez that the motivation for the bombing is economic, not ideological, and that „we have no evidence in the country of narco-terrorism.“ US Ambassador to Mexico Carlos Pascual also indicated that this violence in Mexico, which also included a grenade attack on the US Consulate in Nuevo Laredo a few months ago, “is disturbing but has not reached the level of terrorism.” We are supposed to believe in their evidence that 90 percent of the dead are criminals, but that they have no evidence at all of narco-terrorism? This, despite numerous incidents of grenades and other explosives being used in recent attacks in the states of Michoacan, Nuevo Leon, Tamaulipas, Guerrero, Sonora and many other places in Mexico. And that “armed commandos” dressed like soldiers and wielding high-powered machine guns are witnessed at the scenes of hundreds of massacres documented since 2008.

No one asks or answers this question: How does such an escalation benefit the drug smuggling business which has not been diminished at all during the past three years of hyper-violence in Mexico? Each year, the death toll rises, each year there is no evidence of any disruption in the delivery of drugs to American consumers, each year the United States asserts its renewed support for this war. And each year, the basic claims about the war go unquestioned.

Let us make this simple: no one knows how many are dying, no one knows who is killing them and no one knows what role the drug industry has in these killings. There has been no investigation of the dead and so no one really knows whether they were criminals or why they died. There have been no interviews with heads of drug organizations and so no one really knows what they are thinking or what they are trying to accomplish.
It is difficult to have a useful discussion without facts, but it seems to be very easy to make policy without facts. We can look forward to fewer facts and more unquestioned and unsubstantiated government claims.

Such as the response by General Felipe de Jesús Espitia, commander of the Joint Operation Chihuahua, to a 2008 report by El Diario de Juárez that one out of three Juárez citizens believed the army occupation of the city had accomplished little or nothing. „Those who feel this way, it is because their interests are affected or because they are paid by the narco-traffickers,“ he said. „Who are these citizens?“

General Jorge Juárez Loera, the first commander of the Joint Operation Chihuahua, put it this way: „I would like to see reporters change their articles and instead of writing about one more murder victim, they should say, ‚one less criminal.‘ “

source: http://www.thenation.com/article/379…exico?page=0,0

I had it already a few days ago but it is important for every one,

make this Viral (WWW)

Please sign the declaration here.

Between now and 2012 it’s up to you and your friends, communities, governments, newspapers, to advocate for evidence based drug policy and strengthen the call for policies driven by evidence. Join the movement to end the failed war on drugs, sign the declaration and share it with your networks today.

The Vienna Declaration is a statement seeking to improve community health and safety by calling for the incorporation of scientific evidence into illicit drug policies. We are inviting scientists, health practitioners and the public to endorse this document in order to bring these issues to the attention of governments and international agencies, and to illustrate that drug policy reform is a matter of urgent international significance. We also welcome organizational endorsements.

The declaration process was launched as the the official declaration of the XVIII International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2010) held in Vienna, Austria from July 18th to 23rd. The declaration was drafted by a team of international experts and initiated by several of the world’s leading HIV and drug policy scientific bodies: the International AIDS Society, the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy (ICSDP), and the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS.


What the Vienna Declaration Is

Why We Need It

Policy Today: A Proven Failure

The Need for Change

Lending Your Name

What Else You Can Do

1. What the Vienna Declaration Is

The Vienna Declaration is a statement seeking to improve community health and safety by calling for the incorporation of scientific evidence into illicit drug policies. The declaration is the official declaration of the XVIII International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2010) to be held in Vienna, Austria from July 18th to 23rd, 2010. The declaration was drafted by a team of international experts and initiated by several of the world’s leading HIV and drug policy scientific bodies: International AIDS Society, the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS, and the International Centre for Science in Drug Policy (ICSDP). It was prepared through an extensive consultative process involving global leaders in medicine, public policy and public health.

2. Why We Need It

The world needs a new approach to dealing with illicit drugs. The primary international response to the health and social harms posed by drug use has involved a global “war on drugs” aimed at reducing the availability and use of illegal drugs through drug law enforcement.

3. Policy Today: A Proven Failure

In June 1998, the UN General Assembly hosted a Special Session on illegal drugs under the slogan “A drug free world – We can do it.” The session set out international drug control strategies and law enforcement goals for the subsequent decade in which it was hoped the world could be made “drug free.”

However, it is now clear that drug law enforcement has not achieved its stated objectives. In fact, illicit drugs remain readily available worldwide, and the previous three decades have seen drug prices continue to fall while drug purity continues to increase. In addition, the over-reliance on drug law enforcement has resulted in overwhelmingly negative health and social consequences. This includes the enrichment of organized crime and associated violence, the spread of HIV among injection drug users, as well as other devastating harms as outlined in the Vienna Declaration.

The negative effects of drug control efforts in the United States led to a unanimous resolution at the 2007 annual United States Conference of Mayors that stated that the War on Drugs has failed. The resolution called for a “New Bottom Line” in drug policy, and demanded a public health approach focused on reducing the negative consequences associated with drug abuse while ensuring that policies do not exacerbate problems or create new social problems of their own.

4. The Need for Change

The need for evidence-based public health approaches is clear, yet drug law enforcement continues to be the dominant policy approach at the expense of all others, including public health interventions that have been proven effective. For instance, methadone maintenance therapy remains illegal in Russia and other parts of the world where HIV is spreading most rapidly among heroin users. This ban persists despite the fact that methadone is on the World Health Organization’s list of Essential Medicines and is recognized as one of the most effective treatments for heroin addiction.

The status quo cannot be tolerated any longer: illicit drug policy must be based on scientific evidence to protect and improve the health and well-being of individuals and communities around the world.

5. Lending Your Name

By signing the Vienna Declaration, you will be adding your name to those who have already called for the implementation of evidence-based policies that can meaningfully improve community health and safety by reducing the toll of drugs globally.

6. What Else You Can Do

To spread the word and support the organizations bringing forward this important work, click here. If you are a scientist, academic or health practitioner holding a PhD or MD who would like to continue to speak out about the need for evidence-based drug policy, please click here.

The Vienna Declaration

The criminalisation of illicit drug users is fuelling the HIV epidemic and has resulted in
overwhelmingly negative health and social consequences. A full policy reorientation is needed.

In response to the health and social harms of illegal drugs, a large international drug prohibition regime has been developed under the umbrella of the United Nations.1 Decades of research provide a comprehensive assessment of the impacts of the global “War on Drugs” and, as thousands of individuals gather in Vienna at the XVIII International AIDS Conference, the international scientific community calls for an acknowledgement of the limits and harms of drug prohibition, and for drug policy reform to remove barriers to effective HIV prevention, treatment and care.

The evidence that law enforcement has failed to prevent the availability of illegal drugs, in communities where there is demand, is now unambiguous.2, 3Over the last several decades, national and international drug surveillance systems have demonstrated a general pattern of falling drug prices and increasing drug purity—despite massive investments in drug law enforcement.3,4

Furthermore, there is no evidence that increasing the ferocity of law enforcement meaningfully reduces the prevalence of drug use.5 The data also clearly demonstrate that the number of countries in which people inject illegal drugs is growing, with women and children becoming increasingly affected.6 Outside of sub-Saharan Africa, injection drug use accounts for approximately one in three new cases of HIV.7, 8 In some areas where HIV is spreading most rapidly, such as Eastern Europe and Central Asia, HIV prevalence can be as high as 70% among people who inject drugs, and in some areas more than 80% of all HIV cases are among this group.8

In the context of overwhelming evidence that drug law enforcement has failed to achieve its stated objectives, it is important that its harmful consequences be acknowledged and addressed. These consequences include but are not limited to:

HIV epidemics fuelled by the criminalisation of people who use illicit drugs and by prohibitions on the provision of sterile needles and opioid substitution treatment.9, 10
HIV outbreaks among incarcerated and institutionalised drug users as a result of punitive laws and policies and a lack of HIV prevention services in these settings.11-13
The undermining of public health systems when law enforcement drives drug users away from prevention and care services and into environments where the risk of infectious disease transmission (e.g., HIV, hepatitis C & B, and tuberculosis) and other harms is increased.14-16
A crisis in criminal justice systems as a result of record incarceration rates in a number of nations.17, 18 This has negatively affected the social functioning of entire communities. While racial disparities in incarceration rates for drug offences are evident in countries all over the world, the impact has been particularly severe in the US, where approximately one in nine African-American males in the age group 20 to 34 is incarcerated on any given day, primarily as a result of drug law enforcement.19
Stigma towards people who use illicit drugs, which reinforces the political popularity of criminalising drug users and undermines HIV prevention and other health promotion efforts.20, 21
Severe human rights violations, including torture, forced labour, inhuman and degrading treatment, and execution of drug offenders in a number of countries.22, 23
A massive illicit market worth an estimated annual value of US$320 billion.4 These profits remain entirely outside the control of government. They fuel crime, violence and corruption in countless urban communities and have destabilised entire countries, such as Colombia, Mexico and Afghanistan.4
Billions of tax dollars wasted on a “War on Drugs” approach to drug control that does not achieve its stated objectives and, instead, directly or indirectly contributes to the above harms.24

Unfortunately, evidence of the failure of drug prohibition to achieve its stated goals, as well as the severe negative consequences of these policies, is often denied by those with vested interests in maintaining the status quo.25This has created confusion among the public and has cost countless lives. Governments and international organisations have ethical and legal obligations to respond to this crisis and must seek to enact alternative evidence-based strategies that can effectively reduce the harms of drugs without creating harms of their own. We, the undersigned, call on governments and international organisations, including the United Nations, to:

Undertake a transparent review of the effectiveness of current drug policies.
Implement and evaluate a science-based public health approach to address the individual and community harms stemming from illicit drug use.
Decriminalise drug users, scale up evidence-based drug dependence treatment options and abolish ineffective compulsory drug treatment centres that violate the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.26
Unequivocally endorse and scale up funding for the implementation of the comprehensive package of HIV interventions spelled out in the WHO, UNODC and UNAIDS Target Setting Guide.27
Meaningfully involve members of the affected community in developing, monitoring and implementing services and policies that affect their lives.

We further call upon the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, to urgently implement measures to ensure that the United Nations system—including the International Narcotics Control Board—speaks with one voice to support the decriminalisation of drug users and the implementation of evidence-based approaches to drug control.28

Basing drug policies on scientific evidence will not eliminate drug use or the problems stemming from drug injecting. However, reorienting drug policies towards evidence-based approaches that respect, protect and fulfil human rights has the potential to reduce harms deriving from current policies and would allow for the redirection of the vast financial resources towards where they are needed most: implementing and evaluating evidence-based prevention, regulatory, treatment and harm reduction interventions.

1. William B McAllister. Drug diplomacy in the twentieth century: an international history. Routledge, New York, 2000.
2. Reuter P. Ten years after the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS): assessing drug problems, policies and reform proposals. Addiction 2009;104:510-7.
3.United States Office of National Drug Control Policy. The Price and Purity of Illicit Drugs: 1981 through the Second Quarter of 2003. Executive Office of the President; Washington, DC, 2004.
4. World Drug Report 2005. Vienna: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime; 2005.
5. Degenhardt L, Chiu W-T, Sampson N, et al. Toward a global view of alcohol, tobacco, cannabis, and cocaine use: Findings from the WHO World Mental Health Surveys. PLOS Medicine 2008;5:1053-67.
6. Mathers BM, Degenhardt L, Phillips B, et al. Global epidemiology of injecting drug use and HIV among people who inject drugs: A systematic review. Lancet 2008;372:1733-45.
7. Wolfe D, Malinowska-Sempruch K. Illicit drug policies and the global HIV epidemic: Effects of UN and national government approaches. New York: Open Society Institute; 2004.
8. 2008 Report on the global AIDS epidemic. The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS; Geneva, 2008.
9. Lurie P, Drucker E. An opportunity lost: HIV infections associated with lack of a national needle-exchange programme in the USA. Lancet 1997;349:604.
10. Rhodes T, Lowndes C, Judd A, et al. Explosive spread and high prevalence of HIV infection among injecting drug users in Togliatti City, Russia. AIDS 2002;16:F25.
11. Taylor A, Goldberg D, Emslie J, et al. Outbreak of HIV infection in a Scottish prison. British Medical Journal 1995;310:289.
12. Sarang A, Rhodes T, Platt L, et al. Drug injecting and syringe use in the HIV risk environment of Russian penitentiary institutions: qualitative study. Addiction 2006;101:1787.
13. Jurgens R, Ball A, Verster A. Interventions to reduce HIV transmission related to injecting drug use in prison. Lancet Infectious Disease 2009;9:57-66.
14. Davis C, Burris S, Metzger D, Becher J, Lynch K. Effects of an intensive street-level police intervention on syringe exchange program utilization: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. American Journal of Public Health 2005;95:233.
15. Bluthenthal RN, Kral AH, Lorvick J, Watters JK. Impact of law enforcement on syringe exchange programs: A look at Oakland and San Francisco. Medical Anthropology 1997;18:61.
16. Rhodes T, Mikhailova L, Sarang A, et al. Situational factors influencing drug injecting, risk reduction and syringe exchange in Togliatti City, Russian Federation: a qualitative study of micro risk environment. Social Science & Medicine 2003;57:39.
17. Fellner J, Vinck P. Targeting blacks: Drug law enforcement and race in the United States. New York: Human Rights Watch; 2008.
18. Drucker E. Population impact under New York’s Rockefeller drug laws: An analysis of life years lost. Journal of Urban Health 2002;79:434-44.
19. Warren J, Gelb A, Horowitz J, Riordan J. One in 100: Behind bars in America 2008. The Pew Center on the States Washington, DC: The Pew Charitable Trusts 2008.
20. Rhodes T, Singer M, Bourgois P, Friedman SR, Strathdee SA. The social structural production of HIV risk among injecting drug users. Social Science & Medicine 2005;61:1026.
21. Ahern J, Stuber J, Galea S. Stigma, discrimination and the health of illicit drug users. Drug and Alcohol Dependence 2007;88:188.
22. Elliott R, Csete J, Palepu A, Kerr T. Reason and rights in global drug control policy. Canadian Medical Association Journal 2005;172:655-6.
23. Edwards G, Babor T, Darke S, et al. Drug trafficking: time to abolish the death penalty. Addiction 2009;104:3.
24. The National Centre on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (2001). Shoveling up: The impact of substance abuse on State budgets.
25. Wood E, Montaner JS, Kerr T. Illicit drug addiction, infectious disease spread, and the need for an evidence-based response. Lancet Infectious Diseases 2008;8:142-3.
26. Klag S, O’Callaghan F, Creed P. The use of legal coercion in the treatment of substance abusers: An overview and critical analysis of thirty years of research. Substance Use & Misuse 2005;40:1777.
27. WHO, UNODC, UNAIDS 2009. Technical Guide for countries to set targets for universal access to HIV prevention, treatment and care for injection drug users.
28. Wood E, Kerr T. Could a United Nations organisation lead to a worsening of drug-related harms? Drug and Alcohol Review 2010;29:99-100.

Vienna Declaration Writing Committee

For comments and insights from members of the Vienna Declaration writing committee and other signatories click here.

Evan Wood, MD, PhD (Chair)
Director, Urban Health Research Initiative
Associate Professor, University of British Columbia

Frederick L. Altice, MD
Professor of Medicine & Director of Clinical and Community Research
Yale University School of Medicine

Dennis Altman AM, FASSA, MA
Professor of Politics, La Trobe University
Director, Institute for Human Security

Judith D. Auerbach, PhD
Vice President, Science & Public Policy
San Francisco AIDS Foundation

Anurita Bains
Senior Advisor, Office of the Executive Director
The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria

Prof. Françoise Barré-Sinoussi, PhD
Nobel Laureate
Professor and Head, Unit of Regulation of Retroviral Infections, Department of Virology
Institut Pasteur, Paris

Damon Barrett
Senior Human Rights Analyst, International Harm Reduction Association

Jacqueline Bataringaya, MD, MA
Senior Policy Adviser

, International AIDS Society

Chris Beyrer, MD
Professor, Department of Epidemiology
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Maria Patrizia Carrieri, PhD
Researcher, Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale

Grant Colfax, MD
Director of HIV Prevention and Research
San Francisco Department of Public Health

Marcus Day, DSc
Director, Caribbean Drug & Alcohol Research Institute
Saint Lucia

Don C. Des Jarlais, PhD
Professor of Epidemiology
Director of the International Research Core Center for Drug Use and HIV Research

Françoise Girard
Director, Public Health Program, Open Society Institute

Robin Gorna
Executive Director, International AIDS Society

Carl L Hart, PhD
Associate Professor of Psychology
Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry, Columbia University

Ralf Jürgens, PhD
Consultant, HIV/AIDS, Health, Policy and Human Rights

Adeeba Kamarulzaman, MD
Head of Infectious Disease Unit, University of Malaya Medical Centre

Michel D. Kazatchkine, MD
Executive Director, The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria

Thomas Kerr, PhD
Director, Urban Health Research Initiative
Associate Professor, University of British Columbia

Danny Kushlick
Head of Policy, Transform Drug Policy Foundation

Rick Lines
Deputy Director, International Harm Reduction Association

Barbara McGovern, MD
Associate Professor of Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine

Julio S.G. Montaner, MD, FRCPC, FCCP, FACP, FRSC
Professor, Chair in AIDS Research and Head of Division of AIDS, University of British Columbia
President, International AIDS Society

David Nutt, MD, FRCP, FRCPsych, FMedSci
Director, Neuropsychopharmacology Unit, Division of Experimental Medicine
Hammersmith Hospital, Imperial College of London

Thomas L. Patterson, PhD
Professor of Psychiatry, University of California, San Diego

Tim Rhodes, PhD
Professor and Director, Centre for Research on Drugs and Health Behaviour
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

Brigitte Schmied, MD
President, Austrian AIDS Society, AIDS 2010 Local Co-Chair
Head of HIV Outpatient Clinic, Otto-Wagner-Spital Vienna

Steffanie Strathdee, PhD
Harold Simon Professor and Chief, Division of Global Public Health, Department of Medicine
University of California, San Diego School of Medicine

Sharon Walmsley, MD, MSc, FRCPC
Professor, Department of Medicine, University of Toronto, Division of Infectious Diseases

Dan Werb, MSc
Research Associate, BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS

Alexander Wodak, FRACP, FAChAM, FAFPHM, MBBS
Director, Alcohol and Drug Service, St. Vincent’s Hospital

Die Regierung erlaubt die Präsenz von US-Truppen in costaricanischen Gewässern und im Luftraum. Angeblich sollen sie bei der Bekämpfung des Drogenschmuggels helfen. VON CECIBEL ROMERO

Kampfflugzeuge wie diese AV-8B Harrier dürfen demnächst über dem eigentlich entmilitarisierten Costa Rica kreisen. Foto: rts

SAN SALVADOR taz | Über 60 Jahre lang hat sich Costa Rica gerühmt, eines der friedlichsten Länder der Welt zu sein. 1948 wurde die Armee abgeschafft, das kleine Land in Zentralamerika war entmilitarisierte Zone. Das wird jetzt anders: Das Parlament hat mit den Stimmen der regierenden National-liberalen Partei (PLN) und der rechten „Libertären Erneuerungsbewegung Costa Ricas“ (RC) ein Dekret verabschiedet, das die massive Präsenz von US-Truppen in costaricanischen Gewässern und im Luftraum erlaubt. 46 Kriegsschiffe, 7.000 Marines, 200 Helikopter und 10 Kampfflugzeuge vom Typ AV-8B Harrier dürfen sich im Hoheitsgebiet des Landes tummeln. Ihr abgeblicher Auftrag: die Bekämpfung des Drogenhandels und ein bisschen humanitäre Hilfe. Die Erlaubnis gilt zunächst für sechs Monate.

Seit die Armee Costa Ricas am 1. Dezember 1948 abgeschafft und das auch in der Verfassung verankert wurde, gab es – abgesehen von illegalen Lagern der rechten nicaraguanischen Contra in den 80er-Jahren – keine Militärs im Land. Das Dekret, das nun der US-Armee Eintritt verschafft, wird deshalb von der Opposition als Einladung zur Besetzung verstanden: „Das ist ein Blankoscheck“, sagt Luis Fishman von der konservativen „Sozial-christlichen Einheit“ (PUSC). Die linke „Partei der Bürgeraktion“ (PAC) spricht von einer „Invasion in die nationale Souveränität“. Beide Parteien haben eine Verfassungsklage angekündigt.

Bereits seit 1999 gibt es ein Abkommen über gemeinsame Patrouillen der zur Polizei gehörenden Küstenwache Costa Ricas mit US-amerikanischen Drogenfahndern. Das Kommando haben die Costaricaner. Die Hoheitsgewässer des kleinen Landes werden von den Schnellbooten kolumbianischer Kokainkartelle auf ihrem Weg nach Mexiko und in die Vereinigten Staaten genutzt, der Luftraum wird von den kleinen Propellermaschinen der Drogenkuriere gekreuzt. Die Opposition hat nichts gegen diese gemeinsamen Patrouillen. Jetzt aber gehe es um eine massive Streitmacht, mit Flugzeugträgern und allem Drum und Dran.

Mit demselben Argument der Bekämpfung des Drogenhandels haben die USA im vergangenen Jahr mit Kolumbien ein Abkommen über die Nutzung von sieben Militärbasen des südamerikanischen Landes abgeschlossen. Das benachbarte linksregierte Venezuela verstand diesen Vertrag als direkte Bedrohung und zog seinen Botschafter aus Bogotá zurück. Es folgte eine andauernde politische Verstimmung zwischen den Nachbarländern. Die Militärpräsenz in Costa Rica dürfte weiter für Unruhe in den zentralamerikanischen Ländern sorgen, vor allem im direkten Nachbarland Nicaragua, das über das Wirtschaftsbündnis Alba politisch eng mit Venezuela verbandelt ist.

Die Alba-Mitglieder sehen in der US-Militärpräsenz zur angeblichen Bekämpfung des Drogenhandels einen Vorwand. Das eigentliche Ziel sei die Durchsetzung der politischen und wirtschaftlichen Interessen Washingtons in Lateinamerika. Präsident Barack Obama unterscheide sich da nicht von seinem Vorgänger George W. Bush. Erst in der vergangenen Woche hatte der von Militärs gestürzte frühere Präsident von Honduras Manuel Zelaya gesagt, der Putsch gegen ihn sei von US-Militärs ausgeheckt worden. Das Außenministerium in Washington wies diese Erklärung als „lächerlich“ zurück.


Mit der Armee bekämpft Mexikos Regierung die Drogenmafia. Doch die Soldaten verbreiten Angst und Terror unter der Landbevölkerung. Ihre Vergehen bleiben ungesühnt.

Rund 45.000 Soldaten und Bundespolizisten hat Mexikos Präsident Calderón für den Drogenkrieg aktiviert.

Rund 45.000 Soldaten und Bundespolizisten hat Mexikos Präsident Calderón für den Drogenkrieg aktiviert.

Das Regierungsgebäude aus Kolonialzeiten in Ayutla ist heruntergekommen. Es dient gleichzeitig als Bürgermeistersitz, Postamt und Gefängnis. Im schäbigen Besuchszimmer empfängt der Häftling Raúl Hernández zum Interview. Nachdenklich blickt er durch das vergitterte Fenster auf den bunten Markt der südmexikanischen Stadt, wo Zitrusfrüchte, Mais und Bohnen zum Verkauf ausliegen. All das baute auch Hernández auf seinem Land an, bis ihn Soldaten vor fast zwei Jahren ins Gefängnis steckten. Seither teilt er mit 30 weiteren Häftlingen eine enge Zelle. „Ich bin unschuldig.“ Diesen Satz wiederholt der kleine, stämmige Mann vom Volk der Me’phaa immer wieder Hernández ist einer der Fälle, mit denen sich ab Freitag die Mexiko-Konferenz der Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung in Berlin befasst. Die grüne Denkfabrik weist besorgt auf die „Politik der harten Hand“ von Mexikos Präsident Felipe Calderón hin. Nach seinem Amtsantritt 2006 erklärte der konservative Christdemokrat den Drogenkartellen den Krieg und mobilisierte rund 45.000 Soldaten und Bundespolizisten. Seither schlagen die Kartelle mit Brutalität zurück. Mehr als 7700 Menschen verloren dabei vergangenes Jahr ihr Leben. Die blutigen Massaker machen weltweit Schlagzeilen.

Bundesstaat Guerrero


Weniger bekannt ist dagegen die Brutalität, mit der Mexikos Armee ihren sogenannten Drogenkrieg führt. Davon erzählt der Häftling Hernández. Er gehört zu den Ureinwohnern Guerreros, so wie die meisten Kleinbauern in den kargen Bergen des südmexikanischen Bundesstaates von der Größe Bayerns. Sie leben in extremer Armut, vergessen von der Regierung. Umworben werden sie höchstens von Drogenkurieren aus Kolumbien, die gerne an Guerreros Pazifikküste anlanden und nach Wegen zum Weitertransport ihrer heißen Ware suchen. Guerrero ist der ideale Ort, um willige Helfer zu rekrutieren. 42 Prozent seiner Einwohner sind nach offizieller Statistik unterernährt.

Hernández hat nichts mit Drogenhändlern zu tun. Er gehört zu denen, die sich die Armut nicht mehr gefallen lassen. Darum schloss er sich der „Organisation des Indigenen Me’phaa-Volkes“ (OPIM) an. Fragt man ihn, ob er ein Menschenrechtsaktivist ist, schaut er fragend. Er spricht zwar spanisch, doch die für ihn fremde Sprache will nicht recht fließen. Schließlich sagt er, er fordere lediglich das Nötigste für sein Dorf: Gesundheitsversorgung und Lehrer, Dünger und Baumaterialien.

Die lokale Regierung reagiert auf die Forderungen der Indios genauso, wie es bereits die Spanier bei der Eroberung Guerreros vor fast 500 Jahren taten. Sie schickt die Armee. Die Soldaten verwüsten die Felder der als aufmüpfig geltenden Bauerndörfer um Ayutla, vergewaltigen Frauen, durchsuchen widerrechtlich Häuser, drohen und prügeln. Das „Zentrum Tlachinollan“, eine in Guerrero aktive Menschenrechtsgruppe, hat 109 Fälle von schweren Menschenrechtsverletzungen akribisch dokumentiert.

Source: die Zeit

Rechtsanwalt Rogelio Teliz, der sich um Hernández kümmert, bezeichnet den militärischen Antidrogenkampf in Mexiko als „Vorwand für mehr Repression“. Und die bleibt straffrei. Denn für Verbrechen von Soldaten ist in Mexiko die Militärjustiz zuständig. Sie spricht die Angeklagten in der Regel frei.

Die US-Organisation Human Rights Watch bemängelte in ihrem vor zwei Wochen präsentierten Jahresbericht eine deutliche Verschlechterung der Menschenrechtslage in Mexiko. Schuld daran sei die Militärjustiz, die Verbrechen der Soldaten durchgehen lasse.

Straffrei blieb in Ayutla bisher auch die schockierendste Tat im Dunstkreis der Armee, die sich nur wenige Blocks entfernt von Hernández‘ Zelle ereignete: der Mord am Indio-Führer Raúl Lucas. Mehrmals hatten ihn Soldaten illegal festgenommen und gefoltert. Lucas erstattete Anzeige, doch die Justiz blieb untätig. Vor einem Jahr dann entführten ihn Paramilitärs vor den Augen der Polizei, zusammen mit einem weiteren Indio-Aktivisten. Zehn Tage später fand man die Leichen der beiden Männer, sie waren offenbar grausam gefoltert worden. Die Justiz ermittelt seither widerwillig und quälend langsam. Währenddessen erhielt die Witwe von Lucas einen anonymen Anruf: „Das geschieht ihm, weil er Indios verteidigt“.

Aktiv wird Guerreros Justiz allerdings gegenüber denjenigen, die sich wehren. Das wurde Hernández zum Verhängnis. Soldaten nahmen ihn im April 2008 fest, nachdem ein Armee-Informant kurz zuvor ermordet worden war. Die angeblichen Beweise für Hernández‘ Beteiligung an der Tat hält Anwalt Teliz für „erfunden“. Der Indioführer hat ein hieb- und stichfestes Alibi. Amnesty international hat ihn als Gewissenshäftling anerkannt und fordert seine sofortige Freilassung.

Genauso wie das Gefängnis, in dem Hernández einsitzt, stammt auch das Strafprozessrecht Mexikos aus den Zeiten der Inquisition. Ist ein Verdächtiger erst einmal in Haft, so liegt es an ihm, seine Unschuld zu beweisen. „In Mexiko wird das Grundprinzip der Unschuldsvermutung verletzt“, resümiert Anwalt Teliz. Er sagt: „Seit Jahren zeigen wir Übergriffe und Drohungen gegen Menschenrechtler an, aber die Staatsanwaltschaft unternimmt nichts. Seit mehr als vier Jahren gab es keine einzige Festnahme von Verdächtigen. Im Fall von Hernández waren sie dagegen sehr schnell“.

Hernández hat wenigstens das Glück, internationale Unterstützung zu erhalten. Delegationen aus aller Welt besuchten ihn, darunter auch ein Vertreter der Deutschen Botschaft in Mexiko. Was das für ihn bedeutet, erklärt der Indio-Aktivist auf die ihm eigene, praktische Art: „Die Wärter behandeln mich jetzt korrekt.“ Dabei verweist er auf die mitgebrachten Früchte. Sie kann er entgegennehmen, ohne wie früher das Gefängnispersonal bestechen zu müssen. Streng begrenzt bleibt aber weiterhin die Liste des Erlaubten: vier Bananen und zwei Äpfel, mehr nicht. Höflich bedankt sich Hernández dafür. Er wirft einen letzten Blick auf den Markt vor dem Fenster, dann kehrt er in seine Zelle zurück.

source: die Zeit

Mit ungewöhnlichem Mut und bislang nicht zu beobachtenden Maßnahmen haben sich die Regierungsführer von Jamaika und Mexiko dazu entschieden, die meist gefürchteten und gesuchten Drogenbarone mit militärischen Mitteln, dem Einsatz von Waffen und den Regeln des Gesetzes zu attackieren. Einige der gewalttätigsten Drogenbarone ihrer Länder sollen zudem an die USA ausgeliefert werden, wo sie seit langer Zeit zur Fahndung ausgeschrieben sind. Hauptproblem des Kampfes gegen die Drogen ist jedoch immer gewesen, dass die Gangs die politischen Ebenen der süd- und mittelamerikanischen Länder infiltriert haben, was diesen Kampf von vornherein ad absurdum führte.

Im Verlauf der Zeit endet eine Koexistenz zwischen einflussreichen Gangs und der Politik normalerweise auf böse Weise für eine Nation, was jetzt auch seitens des jamaikanischen Premierministers Bruce Golding öffentlich zugegeben wurde. In der vergangenen Woche traf er die Entscheidung, sich dem gut etablierten Drogenbaron Christopher “Dudus” Coke zu widmen, der in den Vereinigten Staaten gesucht wird. Der Kampf um die Ergreifung von Coke hat nun dazu geführt, Teile der jamaikanischen Hauptstadt Kingston in ein Schlachtfeld zu verwandeln. Die anhaltenden Straßenkämpfe werden als notwendig im Hinblick auf die Säuberung der jamaikanischen Gesellschaft betrachtet. Wie der Premierminister ausführte, stünde das Land an einem wichtigen Wendepunkt, um die Mächte des Bösen zu bekämpfen, die die Gesellschaft durchdrungen und fest im Würgegriff hielten. Die Aktivitäten dieser Kräfte hätten in der Vergangenheit überdies das Resultat gezeitigt, Kingston das Label einer der kriminellsten und gefährlichsten Hauptstädte der Welt aufzukleben. Das Handeln der Regierung soll sicherlich das Signal aussenden, dass Jamaika ein Land des Friedens, der Gesetzesbefolgung und der Sicherheit ist. Mexikos Präsident Felipe Calderon hat jüngst ähnliche Ziele formuliert. Wie er in einer in der letzten Woche gehaltenen Rede vor dem US-Kongress sagte, werde dieser Kampf nicht nur bezüglich der Niederringung des Drogenhandels ausgetragen. In erster Linie sei die Aufnahme dieses Kampfes dem Versuch gewidmet, um die persönliche Sicherheit der mexikanischen Familien zukünftig besser zu garantieren, die der Gefahr des Missbrauchs und dem willkürlichen Drohpotenzial der Kriminellen ausgesetzt seien. Die Vereinigten Staaten unterstützen beide Regierungsführer in ihren Kampagnen, denn sie stellen einen nicht geringen Anteil an den einzelnen Kriegsschauplätzen im Rahmen des immer aufwendiger angelegten US-Kriegs gegen den Drogenhandel dar. Auch will Amerika durch sein Handeln die eigene Verantwortung im Hinblick auf seine riesigen jährlichen Importe illegaler Drogen unterstreichen. Die alte Phrase vom “Krieg gegen die Drogen” hat sich nun zu einer sehr reellen Schlacht in zwei Nachbarländern der USA entwickelt, vergleichbar mit der Situation, die vor einigen Jahren in Kolumbien vorherrschte. Dort konnte der Drogenanbau mit Hilfe des dortigen Präsidenten Uribe bis heute unter Kontrolle gebracht werden, auch wenn sich immer wieder Lücken auftun in denjenigen Gebieten und Regionen, die durch die linksgerichteten FARC-Guerillieros beherrscht werden. Der Auslöser für derartige Kriege wird weitläufig in dem Aspekt gesehen, dass die nationalen Führer die Drogenbarone schlussendlich als das ansehen müssen, was sie sind – nämlich eine Bedrohung und somit etwas, das es zu bekämpfen und nicht zu tolerieren gilt. Ich persönlich habe in diesem Punkt eine ein wenig differenziertere Sichtweise. Wenn man sich die Lieferkette von den Erzeugerländern Ecuador oder Kolumbien hinauf durch die mittelamerikanischen Staaten Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala bis nach Mexiko und die Vereinigten Staaten anschaut, so ist es ein offenes Geheimnis, dass nahezu der gesamte Staats- und Beamtensektor an dieser Lieferkette in den einzelnen Transitländern sehr viel Geld verdient. Für viele korrumpierte Personen aus den Staatsapparaten ist die Teilnahme am Drogenhandel nicht nur zu einer Neben-, sondern absoluten Haupteinnahmequelle avanciert. Wundern sollte einen das nicht, denn die Margen in diesem Geschäft sind wahrscheinlich die höchsten der Welt, weshalb staatliche Organe wie die Polizei oder auch die Gerichtsbarkeit in diesen Ländern durch Korruption leicht zu unterwandern und infiltrieren sind. Diesen aus der Flasche entlassenen Geist wird man wohl nie wieder in die Flasche zurückbekommen, denn es sei darauf hingewiesen, dass 1 Gramm hochwertiges und nicht verschnittenes Kokain den Touristen am Strand von Ecuador für lächerliche $2,50 zum Kauf angeboten wird. In den Vereinigten Staaten hat dasselbe Gramm dann einen Marktwert von leicht $150 bis $180. Wenn staatliche Organe und das Militär in Mexiko und Jamaika nun gegen verschiedene Drogenbarone vorgehen, so könnte dies auch daran liegen, dass zwischen den Baronen und den einzelnen politischen Ebenen ein Machtkampf um die Anteile am Kuchen aus diesem Geschäft ausgebrochen ist. Wer auch nur einmal in Süd- oder Mittelamerika oder auch der Karibik gewesen ist oder dort vielleicht auch eine Zeit lang gelebt hat, wird wissen, dass hinter vorgehaltener Hand jedermann darüber im Bilde ist, dass die Politik und ihre staatlichen Organe mit an diesem Handel verdienen. Denn es ist das gesamte System, das faul ist. Deshalb wäre ich vorsichtig mit der vorschnellen Bildung einer Meinung bezüglich dieses offen ausgebrochenen Krieges, für den sich viele Medien missbrauchen lassen, um der Weltöffentlichkeit die heroischen Ziele der Regierungsführer zu suggerieren, wie sie oben bereits beschrieben wurden, und die zur Erklärung dieses Krieges oftmals herhalten müssen. In Süd- und Mittelamerika muss ein Wolf sein, wer den lukrativsten Handel der Welt kontrollieren oder an ihm partizipieren will. Man sollte daher niemals vergessen, dass diese Wölfe nicht nur unter den Drogenbaronen, sondern genauso in Politik, Polizei, Militär oder der einfachen Bevölkerung zu finden sind, die insbesondere auf Basis der darnieder liegenden Wirtschaften in ihren Ländern im Drogenhandel eine alternative und zudem äußerst lukrative Einnahmequelle sehen, die sie keinesfalls verlieren wollen.

source: http://www.wirtschaftsfacts.de/?p=5341

In April 2007 Ciudad Juárez—the sprawling Mexican border city girding El Paso, Texas—won a Foreign Direct Investment magazine award for “North American large cities of the future.” With an automotive workforce rivaling Detroit’s and hundreds of export-processing plants, businesses in Juárez employed 250,000 factory workers, and were responsible for nearly one-fifth of the value of U.S.-Mexican trade. The trans-border region of 2.4 million people had one of the hemisphere’s highest growth rates.

Just three years later, as many as 125,000 factory jobs and 400,000 residents have vanished. More than ten thousand small businesses have closed, and vast stretches of residential and commercial areas are abandoned. It is no surprise that the Great Recession temporarily shuttered factories and forced layoffs in a city intimately tied to American consumers. Mexico’s economy contracted by 5.6 percent in 2009, far worse than the United States’s “negative growth” of about 2 percent.

But Juárez has suffered from much more than recession. Its murder rate now makes it the deadliest city in the world, including cities in countries at war with foreign enemies. On average, there are more than seven homicides each day, many in broad daylight. Some 10,000 combat-ready federal forces are now stationed in Juárez; their armored vehicles roll up and down the same arteries as semis tightly packed with HDTVs bound for the United States. Factory managers wake up in El Paso—one of the safest U.S. cities—and go to work in the plants of a city bathed in blood.

To Americans the most notable killing was the March assassination of a U.S. consular employee and her husband on their way home from a child’s birthday party. Witnesses say their car was chased down a boulevard that once symbolized peace between the United States and Mexico and mutual prosperity. It rammed a curb within yards of the bridge to El Paso. Though the killing took place practically under the noses of armed forces stationed in the highly sensitive area, just a few bullet casings were recovered from the scene, indicating that the executioners took their time to clean up and cover their tracks.

Three weeks later the army arrested the alleged killer—a member of a gang aligned with the Juárez Cartel—but almost no one believes this crime will ever be “solved.” And with good reason. In recent years less than 2 percent of Mexican homicide cases have concluded with the sentencing of the perpetrator. In Juárez alone, there are some 200 unidentified corpses dating back to January 2008. As of June 2010 Juárez is in its 30th month of open warfare.

Can Juárez be saved? Will the factories reopen, as they have after past economic downturns, or is the city too dangerous for the business of making legal consumer goods? The economic questions are, perhaps, beside the point. For even if legal manufacturing returns, salvation may remain a distant goal. The economic model—low-wage export-oriented assembly—that investors celebrated also helped Juárez become the illegal narcotics capital of the Western hemisphere, perhaps indelibly.

A tale of two cities
I first got to know Juárez during the 1990s, when I lived and worked there as a graduate student in anthropology. It was exciting then: Juárez was at the heart of debate over the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Coming fast on the heels of the Soviet collapse in 1989, NAFTA launched the current era of globalization. In Juárez I had a front-row seat for the unfolding of free trade.

It was a place of head-spinning extremes—gleaming high-tech industrial parks ringed by worker slums. One of the world’s most profitable Walmarts sat within view of settlements without decent water, sewers, or paved roads. Amid the inequalities, however, ordinary, middle-class Juarenses were enthusiastic about their city’s future.
I recently returned to Juárez and was unprepared for the city’s shocking transformation. Friends cautioned against crossing the border. Some had closed their businesses there, or had moved their families north. A few warily ventured into Juárez, but they always hurried back to the United States before dark. For the first time, I heard the once-optimistic Juarenses lament their city.

The economic model that investors celebrated helped Juárez to become the illegal narcotics capital of the Western Hemisphere.
Some see the roots of Juárez’s violence in its recovery from the Mexican Revolution, which ravaged what was in the 1910s and ’20s a frontier town. Certainly part of the city’s personality—and maybe its pathology—can be traced to that period.

Like its booming neighbor to the north, it needed schools, libraries, and hospitals. Instead it got bars and whorehouses. Because of Prohibition, El Pasoans had to find their entertainment across the border, in the richly appointed American-owned casinos and nightclubs. Juárez of the 1920s was like Las Vegas of the 1950s: elegant, exotic, uninhibited.
Older Juarenses speak of the post-Revolution city as if it were two: by day Juárez was a quiet Mexican town modeling itself on the progress it saw in the United States. At night it morphed into a world of exported vice and carnal pleasure. The growth of Fort Bliss during World War II and El Paso’s lingering blue laws reinforced that split personality.

In the late 1960s an experiment in export-oriented manufacturing seemed to give Juárez-by-day the upper hand. Under an agreement between the U.S. and Mexican governments, American firms set up shop across the border and imported materials duty-free from the United States. The companies employed Mexican labor to transform those materials into finished goods for export back, also duty-free. The firms, called maquilas by the locals, found favorable conditions: third-world wages, a government that promoted unionization in name only, and no oversight of the treatment of manufacturing byproducts. Moreover, maquila managers could work “overseas” during the day, and return home at night, thereby avoiding Mexican poverty, environmental problems, and crime. Success begets competition. The trickle of U.S. firms that abandoned their costly Midwestern labor forces became a torrent in the 1980s.

But while Juárez-by-day had triumphed for the time being, Juárez-by-night had not been tamed completely. Factory managers loved their assignments: they enjoyed the comfort and security of their El Paso homes, and, when they wanted, the thrill of Juárez nightlife, including the venues that everyone suspected were fronts for drug money.

Global change comes home
In the summer of 1992, during my first visit to Juárez, a change was snaking its way through the city’s impoverished working-class settlements. Deteriorating rural economic conditions, together with relatively high maquila wages (typically $5-7 a day) prompted a huge immigration to Juárez. The steady stream of potential workers—more than a hundred new residents arrived each day in the 1990s—kept wages down and the costs of housing and services up. Despite their improved conditions, then, workers could enjoy few benefits from their labor. They struggled to meet basic needs, including fees for schooling that would qualify their children for factory work once they were old enough to earn a living.

All the families I met relied on at least one factory salary. But there were plenty of unemployed, too. Mostly young men, these idlers were the right age to be working or in school, but instead they hung around wearing baggy Dickie pants, hair nets, and other insignia of cholo (gang) affiliation. My research assistant, a former Catholic catechist, taught me to recognize and steer clear of the real cholos, who were dangerous, and to salute and acknowledge the others, who were just posing.

The settlements blanketing the steep ravines of the mountains surrounding the city’s center had no infrastructure to speak of, but they did have corners. And boys hung out on those corners day and night. They huddled on their haunches in winter and they lolled in whatever shade they could find in summer. They were guarding turf; they menaced the school kids and factory workers forced to cross their paths, sometimes beating them bloody.

Some idlers were getting high, though not from illegal narcotics. Rather, they mined stolen factory materials—paint thinner, acetone, and buckets of solvent-soaked rags used to wipe down finished televisions. They would distribute “sniffs” to their neighborhood buddies.

But in the mid-1990s life for these young men began to take on another character. A friend who worked in drug treatment told me that she and her co-workers were scrambling to identify new addictions, as banned drugs supplanted the inhalants.

On a 1996 tour of settlements, my friend showed me some of the places where dealers had set up shop. They were not selling injectable narcotics—a syringe was an extravagance in these desperately poor communities—but drugs that could be consumed directly. She spoke of pills, though their identification was elusive. These small retail outlets laid the groundwork for the harder stuff that would soon follow. Over time I realized what the idle kids were up to. They were working, perhaps earning only pennies, for the new dealers.

My observations in Juárez reflected a shift in global drug markets that began far from the city. As globalization of manufacturing ramped up in the 1980s, it did so in parallel with dramatic changes in the production, distribution, and consumption of illegal narcotics. In the early ’90s the global pressures that disrupted the trade routes for cocaine that ran from Andean jungles to U.S. consumer markets converged on Juárez.

This was not obvious then. The local change that seemed most consequential for Mexico’s future was the 1992 election of an opposition party member as mayor of Juárez. Francisco Villarreal Torres, owner of a small chain of house-ware stores and a political outsider, campaigned on promises of good governance and clean conduct. His election proved the viability of the National Action Party (PAN), which went on to win the 2000 presidential election, thereby ending 70 years of one-party rule.

Villarreal’s true rival once he took office was not his political opponent, but Amado Carrillo Fuentes, the subordinate, rival, and successor of famed rural drug lord Pablo Acosta, who died in a 1987 shoot-out with Mexican and U.S. forces. Carillo Fuentes moved operations from the sparsely populated Big Bend region of Texas to Juárez, a relocation that mirrored and exploited the globalization-driven economic success of Juárez.

Acosta’s business had focused on smuggling Mexican pot and heroin across the border to U.S. buyers. Distribution was in the hands of informal dealer networks, from which, reportedly, Acosta only infrequently took a direct cut. With two significant changes to Acosta’s business model, Carrillo Fuentes would turn cocaine into the cornerstone of a multinational, vertically integrated enterprise with diversified products stretching from the Andes (and other source sites) to United States (and other) markets.

In the past, Colombians had used Mexican marijuana smugglers to transport only a small portion of their merchandise; the main trafficking routes wound through the Caribbean. By some estimates, cocaine importation and money laundering accounted for a third of Miami’s economic activity in the 1980s. But the 1993 killing of Pablo Escobar decapitated the Medellín Cartel, and, beginning in 1991, the Cali Cartel was weakened by seizures and arrests (though its leaders remained at large until 1995). When the U.S. Department of Justice began to seize Miami bank assets and prosecute the Colombian traffickers’ lawyers, the Mexican cocaine trade picked up pace and volume.

Trafficking drugs is effectively a licensed affair, the exclusive and protected rights to which are controlled by the military and the police.
Seeing his opening, Carrillo Fuentes shifted from bagman to distributor—the first of his two innovations. He also took advantage of another vacuum: in the years prior to his rise, the prosecutorial assault on crack-cocaine in the United States had jailed and killed thousands of street-level dealers and their bosses. Carrillo Fuentes filled that void with his own retail agents in U.S. cities.

Like any vendor, Carrillo Fuentes looked for new markets and new products. And like transnational firms that sprawled across the city, he saw a business opportunity in the booming factory-worker population of Juárez. His second innovation—perhaps the single action most responsible for the rise in violence—was to call an end to drug traffickers’ long-standing voluntary prohibition against local sales.

Local-market development began modestly enough. Sometime in 1990 or 1991—before the Colombian cartels had ceded their supremacy—residents in a handful of Juárez’s scrappy, tar-paper-and-adobe settlements found their first samples of a narcotic previously limited to export markets: cocaine. It was neither pure nor of high quality—cut several times with talc and baking powder—but it was coke, for the first time, for the Mexican masses.

Gustavo de la Rosa Hickerson, long-time human rights attorney and director of the city’s prison from 1995 until 1998, described to me the explosion of tienditas, retail drug outlets. According to de la Rosa, in 1990 there were fewer than 50 neighborhood dealers. By 1995 the number had climbed to 300. The current estimate exceeds 1,000. Some of these tienditas are distribution centers, employing as many as 50 roving peddlers. And the city is now saturated with dealer-addicts, the “fivers” who sell just enough (about five hits) to cover the costs of their own high. Charles Bowden, in his new book Murder City, estimates that as many as 25,000 Juarenses may be involved in petty drug sales. At the height of the Great Recession, that meant one drug dealer for every four or five employed factory workers.

But this explosion of corner dealers was not responsible for the city’s dramatic transformation. That change came with the system of dealer protection. Each corner dealer works not only under an officer in the cartel, but in tandem with a beat cop. The cop protects the dealer and his gang against encroachments by other neighborhood gangs. The tiendita system is thus a logical extension of the rules of the Mexican drug “plaza,” the long-established formal arrangement between traffickers and security forces.

When foreigners talk about the Mexican drug business and the drug war, they talk about cartels carving up territory among each other and then going after each other’s turf. Mexicans, by contrast, begin with the plaza, a government concession sold to a preferred bidder. Trafficking drugs is effectively a licensed affair, the exclusive and protected rights to which are controlled by the military and the police.

In the tiendita system, it is not only locally “licensed” dealers who send their earnings up the chain of command. Beat cops, too, pay their supervisors and commanders. Hence the Juárez name for what the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) calls the “Juárez Cartel”: la línea—“police line.”

Chronically underpaid Mexican police traditionally have made their living livable with bribes—the famous mordita (“bite”). But historically they did not defend violently their right to bite. Street drugs changed that. De la Rosa told me that in the mid-1990s, only two of the city’s then-estimated 500 gangs were known to be armed. Now, 80 percent of them are.

The violence intensifies
This local retail model was highly successful, and it quickly became the industry standard. By 1997 it was dispersed widely across the industrial north. Carrillo Fuentes had risen in seven years to become Mexico’s wealthiest and most powerful drug trafficker, with a fortune estimated at $25 billion. His “assets” included General José de Jesús Gutiérrez Rebollo, the Mexican drug czar. In February 1997, just weeks after his appointment to the job, an investigation revealed that he had been on the Cartel’s payroll. Carrillo Fuentes also bought shares in a Mexican bank, a move that helped simplify his money laundering efforts.

When Carrillo Fuentes died while undergoing plastic surgery that summer, a violent power struggle predictably followed. But by today’s standards it was mild: a mere 72 deaths over eight months. Now, about a hundred are killed every two weeks in Juárez.

The narcoguerra following Carrillo Fuentes’s death introduced Juárez to “message killings”: bodies tortured, dismembered, and stuffed into boxes, car trunks, and barrels. Also new and shocking were the open-air executions: gangland-style killings at jam-packed restaurants. At the time, such crimes were rare enough that the media could follow them up and report on their continued lack of resolution.

The battle for succession remained mostly isolated to the top command in both the Cartel and the police (the probable first victim of that narcoguerra was a high-ranking federal police officer, killed by commandos just four days after Carrillo Fuentes’s botched surgery). With the confirmation of new leadership—Amado Carrillo Fuentes’s younger brother Vicente, according to conventional wisdom—the killing abated. But it never went away. And it never went back underground. Restaurants and bars became safe again, but killings continued in the neighborhoods where tienditas had taken root. There, factory workers lived tensely with the growing groups of tough, largely unemployed men and boys who moved constantly in and out of alliance with the more organized gangs.
There are 6,600 gun shops in the four U.S. border states. Of the 11,000 guns turned over to the ATF in 2009, almost 90 percent were traced to U.S. gun shops.

Meanwhile the city continued to gorge on the profits of local and international narcotics sales. Though few admitted it, everyone knew how the gaudy houses that popped up in the old moneyed enclaves were financed. Ditto the origins of the flashy princesses who began to grace the newspapers’ society pages. City elites chose to overlook the excesses of the trafficking business. “We tolerated the narco,” an upper–middle class friend recently told me. “That was our mistake.” I asked her why conventional, conservative-Catholic Juárez put up with the traffickers. “Look at all those businesses up and down the Avenida de las Americas,” she said, “it’s all money laundering. But it gave us restaurants to enjoy and boutiques to shop in.”

The price of permissiveness grew increasingly steep. In 1993 a no-nonsense retired accountant named Esther Chavez Cano noticed routine newspaper stories on the discovery of female corpses. The details were gruesome: some were found tortured and raped, almost all were tossed to the side of a road, as if they were litter. Chavez Cano began a newspaper column in which she demanded action and accountability. Her writing campaign soon launched a social movement that garnered international attention for the same city that was then proudly boasting of its manufacturing triumphs. She and those she inspired tallied 427 women dead or disappeared between 1993 and 2007, an undeniable symptom of the city’s violent alter ego.

But these horrific killings of young women eclipsed a more prosaic body count: that of the men who turned up dead all over the city with increasing regularity. It is easy enough to see how the murdered girls and women focused the world’s attention on Juárez’s perverse, misogynistic, and violent appetites. Nonetheless, for every publicized female corpse there are ten overlooked male counterparts, according to government data. Whatever the explanation for the high numbers of women killed, the one incontestable fact is that the killing of both women and men began in earnest the very year that the DEA says cocaine trafficking shifted from Miami to Juárez. This was not a coincidence.

The world’s deadliest city
I moved away from the border in 1999 but returned to visit in 2001. I caught up with two friends, also academics, who had been raised in the city’s toughest neighborhoods. We met at a cute bar on the corner of Avenida de las Americas and Avenida Lincoln. It was the kind of place then multiplying around town: refrigerated air, an impressive sound system, and swanky drinks. It shared a parking lot with a California-style sushi bar that in 1997 had been the site of the dinnertime execution of a businessman with suspected drug ties.

We talked about cholos. “Today’s cholo is different,” one of my friends remarked. “Yesterday’s cholo used to compete with merely his attitude, his fashion, and his posture. If the cholos really needed to fight, they fought with what they had available: rocks, stones. And then they got knives. But now some of them have guns.” Today, “some” would be “nearly all,” but as recently as 2001, guns were rare.

That summer I took pictures of a sixteen-year-old boy. He sported a bandana and an oversized tee shirt depicting the Virgin of Guadalupe and his initials in Gothic letters. He smiled so sweetly and eagerly that he hardly looked tough in his portrait. He and his mother beamed when I brought them copies. She surprised me with the pride she took in her son’s apparent cholo ambitions. I had never met such a parent.

That summer I was also surprised by what seemed to me an astronomical increase in the number of kids just hanging out, guarding turf on corners. Neighborhood toughs were now everywhere. And they belonged to a bewildering array of ranked groups, mysteriously nested within hierarchies that most of the teenagers I talked to only vaguely understood.

In 2001 I could see that what was once isolated in the bars and nightclubs and conducted its affairs after hours, had woken up to business in the daytime and set up shop close to home. The gap between Juárez-by-day and Juárez-by-night was narrowing to a sliver.

Today, the sliver has vanished. The Juárez Cartel and its rival, the Sinaloa Cartel, fight each other in the streets, and Mexican federal forces allegedly fight the traffickers. Rumor has it that a third trafficking organization, the Zetas, may have entered the market.

In any case, the violence escalates. There were many milestones along the way: 1993, the year that femicide was first recorded, the year when Amado Carrillo Fuentes reportedly assumed sole leadership of the Juárez Cartel; 1997, the escalation of violence after his death; 2000, when, with considerable fanfare, the FBI announced its mission to Juárez to locate the rumored remains of as many as a hundred victims buried in narcofosas, “drug graves” (only four bodies were found). Also crucial was 2004. That year, the United States lifted its ban on assault weapons, making it that much easier for traffickers to obtain their arms of choice. There are 6,600 gun shops in the four U.S. border states. Of the 11,000 guns turned over to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) by Mexican forces in 2009, almost 90 percent were traced to U.S. gun shops.
Homicides in Juárez nearly doubled from 123 to 234 between 1993 and 1994. The rate stabilized for the next dozen plus years, dipping in some, ranging from a low of 176 in 1999 to a high of 294 in 1995. The 2007 spike to 316 murders generated much year-end hand-wringing, but within a month 2007 appeared to be the calm before the storm. Violence exploded in January of 2008, with 46 killings. The total for February was 49. And in March, when President Felipe Calderón deployed thousands of troops to secure the city, the murder count doubled to 117. Now it rarely dips below those levels. One hundred deaths in a month would be considered a respite. May 2010 saw 253.

Mexicans, schooled in the reality of the drug business, find it hard to believe that security forces can fight traffickers. The two groups are indistinguishable.

The familiar explanation for the spasm of violence that has seized Juárez since January 2008 starts with Calderón’s vow upon taking office two years earlier to rid Mexico of all traffickers and his rapid deployment of troops to cartel hot spots. But almost from the start, skeptical observers have suggested that Calderón’s forces appear to be routing all traffickers but one: the powerful Sinaloa Cartel, headed by Joaquín Guzmán Loera, a.k.a. El Chapo (“shorty”). For Mexicans, schooled in the reality of the plaza, it is hard to believe that security forces can fight traffickers; they are, as one journalist put it to me recently in an email, indistinguishable from each other.

Consider the evidence that Mexicans never forget or overlook: shortly after President Carlos Salinas left office in 1994, his older brother’s wife was caught using a fake passport to withdraw more than $80,000,000 from a Swiss bank, part of the fortune her husband somehow managed to amass while working as a government bureaucrat. The disgraced ex-president fled into self-imposed exile in Ireland, a country that has no extradition treaty with Mexico.

His successor, Ernesto Zedillo, declared a U.S.-style war on drugs and then appointed Gutiérrez Rebollo as his drug czar, only to find that Carrillo Fuentes was paying Gutiérrez Rebollo his monthly rent for a national concession.

Even the first opposition president in Mexico’s modern history is not free of suspicion. Shortly after Vicente Fox’s election in 2000, he spent a weekend at the private Cancun retreat of Roberto Hernández Ramírez, CEO of Banamex (Mexico’s second-largest bank) and alleged drug trafficker.
None of this explains the extent of Juárez’s homicidal violence. One major difference between 1997 and 2008, as Gustavo de la Rosa Hickerson pointed out, is that the current war is being fought at every level of the trade, down to the street-level vendor and his protection and tribute network. As Charles Bowden puts it, this is not a war against drugs, it is a war for drugs. One related theory put forward by veteran observer Bill Conroy of Narco News is that the army moved into Juárez to take the concessionaire role away from the police.

The story of the two cities of Juárez thus applies to the entire country: what started in Juárez has become Mexico. The attempt to cripple the drug business in Juárez has meant crippling the city; doing the same in Mexico at large may mean crippling the nation.

Innocent victims
President Calderón has sought to make his drug war palatable by asserting that the country’s war dead—estimated at 23,000 since January 2006 for the country as a whole—deserved to die: their deaths implicate them in illegal activities.

When he first learned about what Juarenses have come to call the “massacre at Villas de Salvarcar,” Calderón hinted that the thirteen teenagers who died at the hands of professional executioners were common criminals and city low life. He could not have been more wrong. In fact they were honor students and athletes who had gathered to celebrate a friend’s seventeenth birthday. They had the misfortune of belonging to a football club whose initials, “AA,” were mistaken for the initials of the Sinaloa cartel’s local enforcers, the Artistic Assassins. And so, in the middle of the night, while the teens danced in a room cleared of furniture, they were gunned down. Seven hours later, when the first daylight photos were taken, the concrete floor where they died still glistened with their clotting blood.

The escalating war over the Juárez plaza coincided with a particularly unpleasant moment in the global market system—in the midst of massive factory layoffs prompted by the economic downtown beginning in 2007. Locals easily grasp that little of the current day-to-day violence in Juárez has much, directly, to do with any cartel. Look at who dies with grim regularity: a gang of teenage car thieves, a group of former cholos who opened a funeral home, a guy pilfering doors from an abandoned neighboring house. Not all victims are entirely innocent—the city is filled with scrappy, hard-working men and women, some of whom have turned to Juárez-by-night for survival now that Juárez-by-day has so little to offer them—but they are not drug dealers or corrupt police, either.
Accommodating the drug business has become a shockingly ordinary part of life. Working-class parents ask few questions when their studious daughters and sons lose factory jobs while their wayward siblings provide the household’s only income.

In February I spent a day with the director of a nonprofit day-care organization as she visited centers her group helped to launch. The owner of one home-based establishment related with good cheer being confronted by a nicely dressed middle-aged couple and their armed bodyguard. They advised her to start paying a $1,000-per-month protection fee. She and her family went into hiding for a few weeks before they reopened—quietly, and with great trepidation. The director laughed when I asked which cartel the extortionists work for. “People like that don’t work for anybody,” she replied. “They extort for a living because no one stops them!” The couple had shaken down the entire block of small family-owned businesses. Little matter that across the street stretched the vast army encampment, home to troops sent to end the city’s lawlessness.

Later my guide told me that Juarenses even have their own terms to distinguish between organized crime and opportunistic crime. The most common form of the latter is the secuestro express: a kidnapping that lasts no more than a few hours, just long enough to pressure a family to cough up an “affordable” ransom, but not long or expensive enough to attract the interests of enterprises that might want a cut.

Night falls
For decades, the maquilas’ critics longed for border businesses to be in control, rather than simply in service, of multinational capital. This is the irony of Carrillo Fuentes’s innovation: he became the Mexican-border trade baron who accomplished all that and more. His generation of traffickers adapted the maquila model to their own use by taking advantage of its infrastructure to move and market their products. No wonder Forbes recognized their achievements by including El Chapo Guzman in its 2010 list of global billionaires.

And what of the maquilas? The signs are not promising: in mid-January university researchers calculated industrial park vacancies at 14 percent—a historic high, up from an already-alarming 10 percent the year before. That month a Siemens customs manager was gunned down on his way to work. In October his subordinate had met her end after U.S. officials found drugs smuggled in a shipment. Mid-level staff are frequent targets, prompting some companies to consider extending their security measures beyond plant executives. It is probably just a matter of time before manufacturing firms move on.

What will be left of Juárez then? In El Paso, there are nightclubs, boutiques, fancy restaurants, and thriving industries. That city is growing in ways that seemed unimaginable even a decade ago. Even the mayor of Juárez has fled north of the border, and that was before he received a threat to his life in February—a severed pig’s head marked with his name.
Those who haven’t abandoned Juárez may be watching the death of it, both day and night.

source: http://bostonreview.net/BR35.4/hill.php

For years, there has been much discussion about the best strategy to rid Afghanistan of its poppies. Eradication, said the George W Bush administration. Interdiction and alternative livelihoods, retorted the Barack Obama administration. Licensing and production for medicinal purposes, suggests the influential Senlis Council.

The issues have been fiercely debated: Would there be enough demand for Afghanistan’s legal morphine? Is the government too corrupt to implement this or that scheme? To what extent will eradication alienate farmers? Which crops should we substitute for poppies?

These questions are not unimportant, but fundamentally, they do not address the primary source of Afghan drug production: the
West’s (and Russia’s) insatiable demand for drugs.

Afghanistan accounts for about 90% of global illicit opium production. Western Europe and Russia are its two largest markets in terms of quantities consumed and market value (the United States is not an important market for Afghan opiates, importing the drugs from Latin America instead). Western Europe (26%) and Russia (21%) together consume almost half (47%) the heroin produced in the world, with four countries accounting for 60% of the European market: the United Kingdom, Italy, France and Germany.

In economic terms, the world’s opiates market is valued at $65 billion, of which heroin accounts for $55 billion. Nearly half of the overall opiate market value is accounted for by Europe (some $20 billion) and Russia ($13 billion). Iran is also a large consumer of opium, with smaller amounts of heroin. The situation is similar for cocaine, for which the US and Europe are the two dominant markets (virtually all coca cultivation takes place in Colombia, Peru and Bolivia).

In short, it is the West that has a drug problem, not producer countries like Afghanistan (or Colombia): demand is king and drives the global industry.

How should we reduce opiate consumption and its negative consequences in the West and Russia? Drug policy research has typically offered four methods. There is a wide consensus among researchers that such methods should be ranked as follows, from most to least effective: 1) treatment of addicts, 2) prevention, 3) enforcement, and 4) overseas operations in producer countries. For example, 12 established analysts reached the following conclusions, published a few months ago:

Efforts by wealthy countries to curtail cultivation of drug-producing plants in poor countries have not reduced aggregate drug supply or use in downstream markets, and probably never will … it will fail even if current efforts are multiplied many times over.

A substantial expansion of [treatment] services, particularly for people dependent on opiates, is likely to produce the broadest range of benefits … yet, most societies invest in these services at a low level.

Also, a widely cited 1994 RAND study concluded that targeting “source countries” is 23 times less cost effective than “treatment” for addicts domestically, the most effective method; “interdiction” was estimated to be 11 times less cost effective and “domestic enforcement” seven times. The problem is that the West’s drug policy strategy has for years emphasized enforcement, combined to overseas adventures, to the detriment of treatment and prevention. Also, Russia has been complaining about the suspension of eradication in Afghanistan, but it has a very poor record of offering treatment to its own addicts, rejecting widely accepted scientific evidence. Moscow has chosen a strategy that “serves the end of social control and enforcement,” just like the US: criminalization is emphasized and the largest share of public resources is directed to arrest, prosecute and incarcerate drug users, instead of offering them treatment. This worsens Russia’s HIV epidemic, the fastest growing in the world – with nearly one million HIV infections, some 80% of which related to the sharing of drug needles – while syringe availability remains very limited. For instance, methadone and buprenorphine remain prohibited by law in Russia, even if they are effective in reducing the drug problem by shifting addicts from illegal opiates to safer, legal alternatives. Accordingly, a just released New York University report states that “Nothing that happens in Afghanistan, for good or ill, would affect the Russian drug problem nearly as much as the adoption of methadone” in Russia – which would also help Afghanistan reduce poppy cultivation. Obama announced last year that the US would have access to seven military bases in Colombia under the pretext of fighting a war on terror and a war on drugs. Likewise, Russia recently announced that it would set up a second military base in Kyrgyzstan, to combat drug trafficking. Victor Ivanov, the Director of the Russian Federal Drug Control Service, explained how he was inspired by US drug war tactics in Latin America:

The United States‘ experience is certainly quite effective. The powerful flow of cocaine from Colombia into the United States prompted Washington to set up seven military bases in the Latin American nation in question. The US then used aircraft to destroy some 230,000 hectares of coca plantations … Russia suggests building its military base in Kyrgyzstan since it is the republic’s Osh region that is a center of sorts whence drugs are channeled throughout Central Asia.

Europe’s record on drug policy has improved over the last two decades, important advances having been made to bring harm reduction into the mainstream of drug policy, and rates of drug usage for each category of drugs are lower in the European Union (EU) than in states with a far more criminalized drug policy, such as the US, Canada and Australia. But there is still room for improvement. For example, although opioid substitution treatment and needle and syringe exchange programs now reach more addicts, “important differences between [European] countries continue to exist in scale and coverage”, a recent review of harm reduction policies in Europe concludes. In particular, “Overall provision of substitution treatment in the Baltic States and the central and south-east European regions, except in Slovenia, remains low despite some recent increases. An estimate from Estonia suggests that only 5% of heroin users in the four major urban centers are covered by substitution programs, and that this rate is as low as 1% at national level.“ Lack of funds is no excuse, as there is plenty of money available, for instance, out of the $300 billion Europeans spend every year on their militaries, to maintain among other things their more than 30,000 troops in Afghanistan. The UK was put in charge of counter-narcotics in Afghanistan. However, domestically, leading specialists Peter Reuter and Alex Stevens report that “Despite rhetorical commitments to the rebalancing of drug policy spending towards treatment… the bulk of public expenditure continues to be devoted to criminal justice measures… this emphasis on enforcement in drug control expenditures also holds for the most explicitly harm reduction-oriented country, the Netherlands.“ In the UK, over 1994-2005, “the number of prison cell years handed out in annual sentences has tripled“ (although significant increases have also been made towards treatment). “The prison population has increased rapidly in the past decade [and] the use of imprisonment has increased even more rapidly for drug offenders than other offenders… These increases have contributed significantly to the current prison overcrowding crisis.“ British enforcement costs taxpayers dearly, but the government does not regularly or publicly calculate those costs. Through a Freedom of Information request a document was released that “calculated the annual cost of enforcing drug laws – including police, probation, prison and court costs – at approximately ฃ2.19 billion, of which about ฃ581 million was spent on imprisoning drug offenders.“ All this said, there is one way in which Afghanistan does have a drug problem, namely, its increasing number of addicts. A recent report from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) estimated that drug use had increased dramatically over the last few years and that around one million Afghans now suffer from drug addiction, or 8% of the population – twice the global average. Since 2005, the number of regular opium users in Afghanistan has grown from 150,000 to 230,000 (a 53% increase) and for heroin, from 50,000 to 120,000 (a 140% increase). This spreads HIV/AIDS because most injecting drug users share needles. But treatment resources are very deficient. Only about 10% of addicts have ever received treatment, meaning that about 700,000 are left without it, which prompted UNODC chief Antonio Maria Costa to call for much greater resources for drug prevention and treatment in the country. The problem is that the Obama and Bush administrations could not care less: since 2005, the US has allocated less than $18 million to “demand reduction” activities in Afghanistan – less than 1% of the $2 billion they spent on eradication and interdiction. Clearly, US priorities have nothing to do with fighting a war on drugs.

source: http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/LG01Df02.html

KABUL – Antonia Maria Costa, head of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), last month informed the world that Afghanistan’s expected opium harvest for the 2010 season will be three-quarters of last year’s output – a substantial reduction of 2,600 tonnes. Afghanistan produces over 90% of the world’s illicit supply of opiates, the key ingredient of heroin, and has produced more than 6,000 tonnes of opium a year since 2006.

A ravaging naturally occurring blight exacerbated by climatic conditions is behind this season’s failed harvest, according to UN forensic findings. In the case of Kandahar, Helmand and Urozgan provinces, which collectively produced 80% of the total amount of opium in Afghanistan last year, the blight was further spread by aphids, small plant-eating bugs that can carry fungi and viruses.

The UN estimates that up to 50% of Afghanistan’s opium crops
have been affected. Following Costa’s announcement, Taliban insurgents and angry farmers in southern Afghanistan were quick to blame international forces for „aerial spraying“ their fields to disrupt this year’s harvest. Farmers claim unconfirmed spraying of their fields has also sickened livestock, children and hurt production of legal crops like fruit and nut trees. The UN, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and US officials deny the claims.

Taliban insurgents, who have a high influence throughout the south, have already started exploiting the spray theory, with statements to the local population blaming international forces for spraying unknown chemicals over southern Afghanistan. „The people believe that this disease is sprayed by ISAF [International Security Assistance Force] onto the crops,“ a source in Helmand province told Asia Times Online. “Farmers claim to have some evidence, saying ‚when we get up early in the morning after a night’s sleep, we have seen some white powder-like residue in our fields and even in our homes which are near the field‘.“

Anecdotal claims of usage of chemicals also have been made in neighboring Uruzgan province. „There are strong rumors among the people that foreign forces sprayed drugs with a virus from the air onto their poppy fields,“ Murad, a resident of Tarin Kowt, Uruzgan province, said. “Some of them say that they have found white material that looks like poppy seeds, but there is not clear evidence.”

The Taliban’s insistence on ISAF involvement and claims by farmers have been galvanized by a previous UNODC program funded by the United States that sought to „weaponize“ fusarium oxysporum, a plant fungus capable of devouring coca bushes, poppy fields and marijuana plants.

Uzbekistan served as the test-bed for the project although at least two Central Asian states refused to participate, opting to manually eradicate their poppy fields, and the project was ultimately terminated in 2002 without the fungus ever being used. Efforts to deploy the virus to South America were blocked by Colombia and Peru and even the United States prohibited aerial dispersal of the fungal agent against marijuana fields in the state of Florida following warnings from scientists that the fungus could mutate into a hardier-strain capable of attacking non-targeted crops and livestock.

The Taliban-perpetuated propaganda machine, however, is having an impact among conspiracy minded communities in southern Afghanistan who are adamant that international forces are responsible for the destruction of their crops.

A much less nefarious culprit may bear ultimate responsibility for the wide-scale destruction of the opium poppies: Mother Nature. Although the UNODC is currently testing samples from the badly damaged opium crop, physical evidence points to a fungus, possibly macrosporium papaverus, a blight that causes root and capsule rot, resulting in little to no opium latex for extraction by farmers.

Enyathullah, a landlord from Arghandab district of Kandahar province, shed light on the decrease in opium production in Kandahar. „Farmers used to receive 140 kilograms of opium while they now yield 14 kg from the same land,“ he said. Countering Taliban claims of a conspiracy, Enyathullah supports the physical evidence that the poppy blight is natural occurring. „Last year, pomegranates were affected by a virus; whereas this year, poppy plants suffer from such problem. A limited number of farmers cultivated opium in Arghandab last year since it was very costly to pay high bribes to the police, bear very low prices of opium, and deal with increasing raids by local security forces,“ said Enyathullah.

The poppy plant blight has already hurt general markets and businesses in Kandahar city because the income of farmers from the poppy fields has been slashed, he said. The several highly destructive funguses, viral diseases and forms of blight that affect poppy plants can be exacerbated by excessive moisture, high humidity and overly watered poppy crops. For example, pleospora calvescens, a type of leaf blight harmful to poppy varieties, is worse in times of heavy rainfall or high humidity.

„Beginning in early March, the temperature range between day and night was substantially high so it caused dew in the field. Although dew is good for poppy plants during maturation, this year the increase in dew and high temperature during the day coupled with low temperatures during the night at the growing and blooming stage caused an aphid infestation,“ a source from Helmand familiar with poppy cultivation explained to Asia Times Online. „This aphid infestation causes different problems for different crops, and this year it came late in the season so it helped destroy large plots of poppy crops in southern Afghanistan.“

Costa of the UNODC told participants at an anti-drug forum held in Moscow on June 9 that Afghanistan was entering its third year of substantial decrease in opium output. „This downward trend will continue in 2010 but for a different reason: a natural occurring blight, or plant disease. The same amount of hectares was cultivated as last year but with a drastically different opium output. The blight is caused by a known fungus that has been recorded in Afghanistan over the past 35 years.“

International forces in Afghanistan have adopted a less aggressive opium poppy eradication campaign in favor of increased focus on interdiction and disrupting drug-processing workshops. Widespread destruction will create a new cycle of indebtedness for farmers, raising tensions between rural communities and the Afghan government, and has drastically driven up prices for opium. Opium prices have surged to nearly $115-125 per kilogram from a stable US$25-$35 in some areas.

„The price of opium has gone up because every farmer thinks that this year the opium production was low, so they keep their opium and do not sell it because they hope that the prices will go up,“ Ahmad Jawed, a resident from Helmand province, told Asia Times Online.

„I heard that the opium price is around 65,000 [US$720] to 75,000 Pakistani rupees per seven kilograms, right now. But it was around 10,000-25,000 Pakistani rupees. The quality of the opium is important regarding the price,“ Murad told Asia Times Online.

The UNODC estimates that upwards of 12,000 tonnes of opium are currently in storage and held by a collection of farmers, drug traffickers and insurgents. The soaring prices of raw opium will lead to windfall profits for those wealthy enough to hold onto their caches and sell at times they can make most profit.

The underwhelming 2010 opium harvest will likely lead to farmers planting more in hopes of a bumper crop next year, boosting the profits that anti-government groups like the Taliban and Hezb-i-Islami make from taxing the cultivation and trafficking of narcotics. Rising profits will also threaten the success of the UNODC-sponsored poppy-free province initiative that gives incentives to provinces that wipe out their illicit opium production. Currently 17 of the country’s 34 provinces are poppy-free, a decrease of three from last year, according to UNODC statistics.

Despite the Barack Obama administration’s overhaul of the Afghan war effort beginning last year, little if any meaningful commitment has been made toward curbing the industrial-scale production of narcotics in Afghanistan.

Earlier this year, the UNODC released a long-awaited Afghan cannabis survey that confirmed suspicions that Afghanistan is now the world’s number one producer of two illicit narcotics: opiates and cannabis resin, known better as hashish. Gross misunderstanding of the narcotics problem plaguing Afghanistan has festered for almost nine years under the international community’s watch. The problem has soared to epidemic proportions, causing a tidal wave of legal, health, economic and security problems from Southwest Asia to Europe.

Although corruption has been identified by the ISAF and the US as a bigger challenge than the insurgency in Afghanistan, little has been done to recognize the source of this corruption: the entrenched narco-economy and its penetration of the Afghan state.

Russian government officials have been quick to criticize the ISAF and the US for failure to tackle the burgeoning drug trade as each year an estimated 30,000 Russian youths perish from overdosing on heroin that originated in Afghanistan.

„How are we supposed to take on the drug trade when Afghan government officials cannot explain where the bulk of international financial assistance is and how it was spent?“ asked Rudik Iskujin, head of the Group on Cooperation between the Federation Council of the Russian Federation and the National Assembly of Afghanistan. „Nearly 50% of the international financial aid [given to Afghanistan] is processed by Afghan government entities. The sad fact is only 2% of international monetary assistance is visible by Afghan government entities.“

As thousands of international and Afghan security forces prepare to pacify large swathes of Taliban-occupied and Taliban-influenced territory throughout southern Afghanistan this summer, Afghan farmers will be preparing for a possible record-breaking opium poppy planting season beginning in mid-September, 2010.

The invariably harmful effects of the drug industry on governance, stability and its perversion of the local economy will continue to haunt the international community’s efforts in Afghanistan and thwart progress toward a stable and self-sustaining state until the problem is finally recognized as a key source of the current political and economic instability.

Matthew DuPee and Ahmad Waheed are research associates at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA. Matthew is an Afghan specialist who focuses on the Southwestern Asia narcotics industry. Ahmad was awarded the J William Fulbright Scholarship and received his master’s degree in international policy studies, with a specialization in international development, at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.

source: http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/LF22Df03.html