War on Drugs

A Mexican Poet Gets to the Heart of the War on Drugs (With a Little Help From Camus)


After the murder of his 24-year-old son, Mexican poet Javier Sicilia—who considers the drug war a moral issue, not a political one—played a prominent role in inspiring thousands in Mexico to march in protest last spring. The marchers demanded an end to President Felipe Calderon's confrontational, militarized dealings with cartels which have led to 35,000 dead since 2006.

In an interview with Yes! Magazine in July, Sicilia channels Camus and rather poetically diagnoses the problem at the heart of the rationale for the war on drugs. 

The politicians are formulating the drug problem as an issue of national security, but it is an issue of public health. If from the very beginning drugs were decriminalized, drug lords would be subjected to the iron laws of the market. That would have controlled them. That would have allowed us to discover our drug addicts and offer them our love and our support. That would not have left us with 40,000 dead, 10,000 disappeared and 120,000 displaced…

The war is caused by puritan mentalities: like those of [Mexican President Felipe] Calderón and [former U.S. President George] Bush. In the name of abstractions—the abstraction of saving youth from drug addiction—they have brutally assassinated thousands of young people, while transforming others into delinquents. [Emphasis added.]

Albert Camus spoke a terrible truth. "I know something worse than hate: abstract love." In the name of abstract love, in the name of God and Country, in the name of saving the youth from the drug, in the name of the proletariat, in the name of abstractions, our politicians and war policy makers have committed the most atrocious crimes on human beings, who are not abstractions, who are bones and flesh. That is what our country is living and suffering today: in the name of an abstract goodness, we are suffering the opposite: the horror of war and violence, of innocents dead, disappeared, and mutilated.

For more, read Reason's Mike Riggs on how much legalizing drugs would do to hinder cartel violence on the border.

(Hat-tip to Bob Scott for the interview link).