In stops all around the country, the Caravan for Peace has found that convincing people that the war on drugs is destructive and wasteful is not the problem. The polls show the public came to this conclusion long ago and now close to a majority favor what used to be considered “radical” solutions like legalizing and regulating marijuana. Although most people weren’t aware of the impact of the violence in Mexico, it’s immediately obvious to them that the drug war—trying to block supply in places like Mexico and stop consumption by criminalizing drugs in the U.S.– is not working. Anywhere.Protesters hold a candlelight vigil and a march calling for the end of the drug war on September 6, 2012 in New York City. Mexicans who have lost loved ones in their country's drug war joined with American supporters as part of the Caravan for Peace with Justice and traveled some 6,000 miles through 25 cities, including Los Angeles, Houston, Atlanta and Chicago before arriving to New York. They protested the continued war on drugs on both sides of the U.S.- Mexico border, which has left tens of thousands of people dead. The caravan is due to arrive in Washington D.C. for its final stop September 10. (PHOTO BY: John Moore)
The question then is: If a public consensus on the failure of the drug war, why hasn’t anything changed?
Why does the U.S. government continue to send millions of tax dollars to cities to fight the drug war, as they close down schools for lack of funds? Why does it waste more millions financing a bloody war in Mexico? Why does the Mexican government continue to pay the economic and political cost of a disastrous and destabilizing war? The U.S. has spent 2 billion dollars on the Mexican drug war in the past five years, mostly through the Merida Initiative and the Mexican government has spent at least four times that much.
To answer these questions, we have to look behind the scenes of the drug war. There we find that this disastrous policy has some powerful promoters.
DATA DRIVE VIEWPOINT: Over 50,000 Mexican citizens have died in the very real, very hot drug war in the past 6 years or so. Drug lords in Mexico hold sway over large parts of the country and federal troops are often out gunned in battles for control. The lack of a US federal gun trafficking law combined with weak gun laws and lacks enforcement along the US/Mexican boarder means that another 2,000 guns per day are being shipped over to the Mexican drug lords. In the US hundreds of millions of dollars are being shoveled into law enforcement, resulting in an increasing militarized civilian police force, yet treatment programs, research and public health/education programs are scrambling for funding. It isn't just the Drug War policy that is broken. Behind it is corrupt funding priorities and powerful interests that profit from it.