EspañolIn previous columns, I have focused on the disastrous consequences of current immigration and drug policies in the United States. We’ve examined the bizarre premise from which these policies are built, the injustices they cause, and their ongoing capacity to ruin and end lives.
The pretext for the enforcement of these laws, for the continued militarization of the border and local police, for the expansion of internal checkpoints and further sacrifices of personal liberty is, and has been for decades, the threat of drugs and those who traffic in them. In fact, without the proposed threat of “reefer madness” or narco-terrorist boogeymen like Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, this entire house of cards would crumble.
For this reason, continued research into the effects and medical benefits of a drug like marijuana remains critical within this conversation. As more of the science comes in and stigmas are washed away, the legalization of marijuana in several parts of the world, including the United States, becomes almost a foregone conclusion. However, as long as the prohibition of any narcotic persists and governments fuel lucrative black markets, the “boogeymen” and their associates will thrive.
So, who are these “bad guys” that demand so much attention, and what are the authorities actually doing to try and stop them?
Anabel Hernández, a Mexican journalist and author of Los Señores del Narco (recently translated into English as Narcoland), spent five years researching this very question. Her answers so threatened the established order that attempts were made on her life (on orders, it is believed, from Mexico’s former secretary of public security, Genaro García Luna). As a result, she is now forced to live with bodyguards under 24-hour security protection.
In an interview conducted just last week on my podcast, Demanufacturing Consent, Hernández provides details that shake the core of the official government narrative and shatters commonly held drug war myths.
It is generally acknowledged that the modern-day escalation of violence in Mexico, amid the brutal turf war between rival cartels, was sparked by the Houdini-like prison escape of “El Chapo” Guzman. The truth of this escape — including who may have aided El Chapo and who stood to benefit from his release — is essential to understanding the current working dynamic between the cartels, police, Mexico’s federal government, and big business in Mexico and throughout the world.
Tipped off by Demasco Lopez, deputy director of Puente Grande, the jail where El Chapo was housed, Hernández learned a very different account of how the head of the Sinaloa cartel was allowed to go free.
“The federal government helped him escape,” Lopez told Hernández, a fact she later confirmed by obtaining the original criminal file of El Chapo’s escape. “Reading that report and seeing the proof,” Hernandez said during our interview, “I discovered that Chapo Guzman didn’t escape in the laundry cart as the official version said. He escaped by walking out of the jail with the help of the federal government using a police uniform. I discovered that the federal government began to protect him and the Cartel de Sinaloa, and that’s when the big war between the cartels started.”
The story goes deeper, as Hernández learned through her years of on-the-ground investigative work, landing interviews with members of the most notorious cartels. The government enjoys a reciprocal relationship with their “narco-terrorists,” and not just those within the Sinaloa cartel.
“I was able to talk to many members of almost all the cartels, Sinaloa, Los Zetas, the Gulf Cartel. I interviewed these people not in the mountains, not in caves; I interviewed these people in the best restaurants in Mexico City, Guadalajara, and Monterrey. They are everywhere. In the best hotels. I saw them speaking with Senators, with members of the Congress, with Governors, with anyone and everyone.”
Indeed, it appears these elusive bogeymen, whose cunning outwits the most expansive global surveillance apparatus ever known, remain hidden in plain sight. They’re not even ashamed to dazzle their Facebook and Twitter followers with gold-plated automatic rifles.
“When the Mexican government, when the federal government says, ‘we are searching for El Chapo, we want to catch him,’ it’s not true. El Chapo is in the city. In the best restaurants, and no one really wants to catch him. These guys are not the kind of guys that the government [wants]. The US government says it’s very difficult to find them. It’s not true.”
Not only does the Mexican government have no interest in finding and capturing El Chapo, Hernández believes it has a vested interest in creating and maintaining figures like him.
“This man, El Chapo Guzman, who appears in Forbes as one of the richest men in the world, this man who is now the leader of the most important drug cartel in the world as the DEA has said, this guy was one of those kids who use to work in the fields of marijuana and poppy in the Golden Triangle. He was nobody. He is nobody. He had to leave school when he was 7 years old. He can’t read or write. So, who built this guy? The government and big business.”
According to the UN World Drug Report, the global drug trade generates over US$300 billion in revenue worldwide, accounting for a sizable percentage of the entire international trade market. With so much money involved, it would be naive to think there are not powerful people within government, business, and the banking industry with a financial stake in maintaining the trade.
In fact, the big banks are so thoroughly entrenched in the drug trade, that the former head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, Antonio Maria Costa, has stated that drug money was the only thing keeping them from total collapse in 2008. As “the only liquid investment capital,” drug money was then, and remains today, the life blood of international banks. Further, it follows reason that a collapse of a market of this magnitude jeopardizes not only the banks themselves, but entire economies and governments.
These are the finer details within this sordid story that the politicians in Mexico City, Washington, and throughout the world, would rather you did not concern yourself with. This is what is kept secret when they demand more money from the taxpayer to fill the already bloated coffers of their alphabet soup agencies. There is, of course, no mention of these relationships when a new checkpoint is erected or when domestic surveillance programs are rationalized as necessary for your “protection.”
Through the hard work and personal sacrifice of courageous journalists like Anabel Hernández, the true face of this “war on drugs” is being revealed. The money, drugs, and violence are all built upon an empire of lies, produced by corrupt governments in collusion with the big banks.
As Hernández put it, “The biggest problem in Mexico today is the corruption. The drug cartels, the violence, is just the worst face of that corruption, but the mother of all these problems is corruption.”