Jul 31, 2011

Week´s Top Articles: July 23 - 30, 2011

Here are the most important articles of the past week. They include three excellent analyses of why U.S. drug war policy is inevitably a failure, as well as the Obama administration's announcement of its "new" - and purportedly improved - strategy, now aimed at "transnational crime." There is also a four-part, in-depth series on the Sinaloa cartel in the U.S. And for good news, there is the announcement by the NAACP of its decision to launch a campaign against the drug war. 

On the issue of immigration, there is a story of the march from Central America to Mexico and the U.S. border by migrants and human rights activists to highlight the dangers of migration and demand reforms in Mexico. And there is a wonderful story of an immigrant traveling theater group.
On the Mexican economy there is a closer and critical look at the realities, including growing poverty.  

NAACP calls for end to "war on drugs"

Hurrah for the NAACP! It promises to mobilize its nation-wide organization to end the drug war.

AP /CBSThe NAACP on Tuesday passed what it called a "historic" resolution calling for an end to the war on drugs. "Today the NAACP has taken a major step towards equity, justice and effective law enforcement," NAACP President Benjamin Jealous said in a statement Monday. The resolution was approved by delegates at the annual NAACP convention in Los Angeles. "These flawed drug policies that have been mostly enforced in African American communities must be stopped and replaced with evidenced-based practices that address the root causes of drug use and abuse in America."

Families of Missing Migrants March to Mexico

March to Mexico: "Human rights activists and relatives of missing Central American migrants are making their way to Mexico to protest against the killing, kidnap and abuse of migrants. Groups of protesters came from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador as part of the “Step by Step Towards Peace” march, which aims to highlight the plight of undocumented migrants who undertake the perilous journey through Mexico towards the U.S. border.

Inside the Sinaloa Cartel

latimes.com: "The Los Angeles Times this week published a four-part series by reporter Richard Marosi on the U.S. face of Mexico's Sinaloa cartel, considered one of the most powerful criminal organizations in the world. Here are highlights (and links) from the series.

A New Strategy to Combat an Evolving Threat

The Obama administration takes the war on drugs "to the next level" under the rubric of a "Strategy to Combat Transnational Organized Crime," linking the drug war closer to the War on Terrorism. The strategy aims to integrate "a broad spectrum of partners," including the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security and Defense, and "the intelligence community."

See our MexicoBlog editorial, The Delusion of Power, for our analysis of the strategy.

The White House: In announcing the Strategy, Attorney General Holder said,
"Today, with the release of this Transnational Organized Crime Strategy, we usher in a new era of national vigilance, global engagement, and close collaboration among – and beyond – our respective agencies and departments."

LA day laborers double as actors to teach, empower

A wonderful story about the creative freedom of art giving expression to the vitality of human beings who happen to be unauthorized immigrants.

LA day laborers double as actors to teach, empower | ajc.com: "Most days, they are construction workers and painters and maids. But twice a year, this group of day laborers morphs into actors in a traveling street theater troupe that performs at the very job centers where they and others gather to seek work across Southern California. Blending at-times bawdy humor with a serious message about employer abuses, the Los Angeles-based Day Laborer Theater Without Borders has helped teach illegal immigrants with little education or knowledge of the law about their rights in this country. ...

Illicit Globalization on the Border: Myths and Fears of Transnational Crime

From the CIP TransBorder Project, a review of an excellent analysis of how governments decide what is categorized as a crime that can then be attacked and defeated and how the ancient "crime"of smuggling defines borders. Global trade leads to global smuggling and the resulting border "wars."

Border Lines: "Peter Andreas is bothered by the consequences of alarmist threat assessments about transnational crime and porous borders. He writes, "The standard narrative of illicit economic globalization is not only exaggerated and misleading but can lead to counterproductive policy prescriptions. Urgent calls to “do something” about the illicit side of globalization can provide ammunition for politicians and bureaucrats to justify costly high-profile crackdowns that may be politically popular but that ultimately fail. It can also contribute to growing calls to further securitize and militarize policing efforts regardless of the effectiveness of using military resources for law enforcement tasks.""

Lessons from Mexico's drug wars

Ah, the global world. Here, from a South African newspaper, a report of a Mexican psychoanalyst's presentation, at a conference in Greece, of the the psychodynamics of capitalism that keep the drug market going between the United States and Mexico. An excellent analysis of why state power can never stop human desire. 

Thought Leader » Bert Olivier
 "It defies comprehension that a society can be so at war with itself that human life appears to have literally lost ALL value — even when a superficial take seems to explain it, simply, in terms of the colossal profits on the part of the druglords — until one turns to psychoanalysis for some understanding. At the recent International Society for Theoretical Psychology conference in Thessaloniki, Greece, David Cuéllar of the University of Michoacan San Nicolás in Mexico offered his audience just such a psychoanalytic interpretation of this utterly reprehensible socio-economic phenomenon.

Is the Mexican Economy Booming?

A critical analysis of the supposed "good news" of Mexican economic growth and resulting lower migration to the U.S.

North American Congress on Latin America: "Mexico’s Secretary of the Treasury, Ernesto Cordero, recently provoked some outrage when he announced that Mexico “was no longer a poor country.” Mexico, he tweeted to the press, echoing the line of the ruling National Action Party (PAN), “is now a middle income country.”
Well, maybe. Gross domestic product is growing but so—as opposition politicians were quick to point out—is the measured rate of poverty and the number of people eking out a living in the informal sector of the economy. Cordero’s claim has been received with little credibility in Mexico, but with a great deal of interest in the United States, which has a stake, for a number of reasons, in Mexican stability. 

Hyper-Violence in Mexico: An Interview with Howard Campbell

In this excellent interview, Howard Campbell, a professor at the University of Texas-El Paso, just across the border from Ciudad Juárez, explains the political, social, and economic forces that led to hyper-violence in Mexico.

North American Congress on Latin America
From the interview: "The objective of the U.S. and Mexican Drug Wars may have some good intentions, such as reducing the supply of illegal drugs available to youth and various groups who abuse drugs. In practice, however, the war on drugs is wasteful of money since as currently conceived, the war is not winnable. It is nearly impossible to stop people from getting access to many of these drugs. Prohibition also raises the price of the drugs. This strategy militarizes what are essentially health, social, and moral issues. The result is the incarceration of poor and minority users and the deaths of thousands of mostly young poor people who work in the drug trade or are the innocent victims of it. The strategy has also militarized much of Mexico, produced more violence not less, and been an utter failure. Those who benefit from the drug war are largely anti-drug warriors, politicians in both countries, and elite drug traffickers who profit from prohibition."

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