Monthly Archives: March 2013

Weekly News: March 8-15

This was a big week for drug policy with the Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) meeting being held in Vienna. As you may know, this is the one time of year when all the country delegations come together to discuss drug control policy. Check out this post if you want to learn more about my experience last year. I wasn’t able to make it this year, but I kept up with what was going on through articles and blog posts. Here is a round-up of what happened at the CND, Mexican human rights cases at the Inter-American Human Rights Commission and security issues in the country:

Full Circle US gave a summary of the Evo Morales speech.

For the nitty gritty details, the International Drug Policy Consortium (IDPC) provided daily live-blogging.

Daniel Wolfe from Open Society Foundations came down on the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) on the Huffington Post (and with gooooood reason!)

Other UN agencies including the UN Development Program began to recognize that the war on drugs has failed.

A delegation of Mexican human rights NGO’s traveled to DC this week to speak before the Inter American Human Rights Commission regarding the general situation in Mexico. Women from the Atenco protests also attended to denounce the human rights abuses. Themes included the General Victims Law, forced disappearances and continued violations of human rights by the military. Here is a more in depth article (in Spanish).

The Tarahumara also traveled to Washington this week and one of my friends wrote about their reasons for the journey.

Armed vigilante groups have been popping up throughout the western part of Mexico (primarily in Guerrero and Michoacan ) and there have been conflicting stories on who is funding the groups and the reasons behind their existence. Clearly

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it is a sign of a lack of state presence, and the National Human Rights Commission came out against the groups–but it will pose a serious challenge to the Peña-Nieto government. Here is some analysis on the groups.

That’s all for this week. Saludos y bonito fin!

Passing through Checkpoints

As activists, we talk about the war on drugs on a daily basis. But you don’t really feel like you are in a state of war until you see the military on the streets, until you have to pass through a checkpoint. One of the scariest parts of these checkpoints is that you are never completely sure who is in charge. This insecurity permeates all parts of life and makes you dislike the military, or the state police, or whoever is forcing you to go through the checkpoint. This does not bode well for confidence in government institutions.

In Veracruz, where I’m from, my friends and family go through checkpoints on a daily basis. They have become accustomed to them. I visit on a monthly basis and I still get nervous going through them—even when I have no reason to feel this way. And the checkpoints have been changing as the political environment has changed.

Under the administration of former president Calderon, checkpoints were heavily guarded, you never knew where they were going to turn up. Rifles were aimed at you as you passed through, faces were covered. We were in a state of war.

As that government left and the new administration, led by Peña-Nieto has taken over, there has been a marked difference. A few months ago, we passed through the checkpoint and no one was there. It almost felt scarier to not having anyone guarding the post. It made you wonder where they were, if they were chasing someone, or if they would jump out from the jungle.

And now, they wave you through the checkpoint using a flashlight.

It has become clear that Peña-Nieto will not be using the same war rhetoric, but at the same time, the statistics paint a story that is very similar to that of the previous government. Drug-war related deaths still remain high. Human rights violations by the government are still occurring. Citizens are arming themselves as vigilantes because there is a lack of government presence. All of this does not bode well. Although some might think that Mexico is on the road to recovery, it will take much more to get us to a place where access to justice increased and people feel safe traveling across the country. Organized crime continues to have a stranglehold on our country and it will be up to civil society organizations, along with concrete policies to begin to turn that around.