By Phil Hall
Again and again, it needs to be reiterated. Mexico’s war against the drug traffickers is mainly a US war. If Mexico has failed to defeat the drug traffickers on one side of the border, then the US has failed to defeat it on the other side of the border. The most powerful head honchos of the drugs cartel must be US citizens, not Colombians or Mexicans. Retail always earns more than wholesale.
There is a strange blind spot in the USA where a drugs trade generated by consumers in the richest country in the world suddenly becomes the problem of one nation: the problem of Mexico. What’s going on?
Personally speaking, I have never taken any hard drug. I used to act and look so square that no one has ever thought to offer me any. Yet I know that using cocaine and a wide variety of recreational drugs is considered normal and life-enhancing, especially by many people in the media, finance and creative industries. It is almost conventional wisdom nowadays that to loosen up and socialise effectively, a cosmopolitan European or US citizen with money will take some drugs – occasionally.
Dealers of all kinds sell recreational drugs everywhere. Drug dealers sell drugs not only in rough districts, in the way it is presented in a series like The Wire, but over the counter in corner shops, from cars parked on street corners, from suburban houses. There are even narcotics delivery services, courtesy of the pandemic.
Perhaps it was a reaction to the ideological attacks of Islam and its prohibitions in the noughties after 9/11, but alcohol, that legal drug, is currently promoted everywhere in Europe and the USA as the most life-enhancing, essential liquid that releases fun, love, friendship and freedom and marks your coming of age.
The dangers of alcoholism, a disease that destroys families and unleashes violence and costs the community dear, have now been dangerously downplayed. The modern ethos suggests that taking both drugs and alcohol can help turn you into a more mature, well-rounded and tolerant person.
Here’s the deal. Many journalists take drugs. Many journalists’ friends also take drugs. Drug taking is a criminal activity. Therefore, many journalists are – according to current law – criminals. Therefore, they advocate for the decriminalisation of drugs, all the time pointing the finger accusingly at countries like Mexico.
So we have many people who actually use the substances that cause the deaths in Mexico, over 150,000, calling the drug problem in the USA a ‘Mexican’ problem in an example of unadulterated hypocrisy. Journalists and politicians doing lines of cocaine and popping pills, condemn the Mexican government for failing in a drugs war that they themselves generate with their drug habits..
Of course there is another reason why the journalist will ascribe ‘failure’ to a nation state and blame the supply side instead of highlighting the corruption on the demand side: It is easier then to keep doing lines of coke (or whatever) and point the finger at Mexico rather than jeopardising your own safety by reporting on your supplier and risking suffering the same fate many of your colleagues do on the Mexican side of the border.
The US is primarily responsible for the drugs trade. It is the centre of the trade. In almost every school and workplace in the whole of that country, a variety of drugs are available for distribution to every student or employee. Reflect on that. A nation of over 350 million people where most of those people can get access to illegal drugs if they want to get access to them.
Think of the massive and relatively undisturbed distribution network that must exist in a country like the US for almost every US citizen to have access to drugs. Think of the vast numbers of policemen and officials that must be on the take for that distribution network to be able to operate effectively
The supply side, very often, doesn’t even always begin in Mexico. Mexico is a conduit. The conduit passes across the border and continues to operate in the US. But what happens when the drugs are in the US? By racialising the drug business and saying that it is black people and Latinos from Mexico who distribute the drugs, you cover up the reality and obscure the true people responsible for the drug trade; the consumers.
It is a relay race and the baton of corrupt officialdom is passed across the border to US citizens and officials involved in the drugs trade. In fact, it would not be a mistake to call the US itself a failed narco state, though the country is so huge and rich that not even the drug business is big enough to define it.