Mexicans Are Fed Up with the War on Drugs

A few days ago, tens of thousands of Mexicans in scores of Mexican cities participated in public protests against the War on Drugs and the use of the Mexican army as anti-drug warriors. The violence that has accompanied the Mexican government’s attempts to defeat the drug dealers during the past several years has claimed perhaps as many as 40,000 lives. Some cities, especially Ciudad Juarez, across the river from El Paso, Texas, have become virtual battlefields.

All of this would be sufficiently dreadful if it had accompanied legitimate efforts to suppress real criminals. But although the drug dealers have committed murders, robberies, and other genuine crimes, to be sure, the foundation of this entire “war” is the U.S. government’s attempts to suppress actions — possessing, buying, and selling certain substances — that violate no one’s natural rights. Not to mince words, the War on Drugs is completely evil, from alpha to omega. No one who believes in human liberty can coherently support it. That its prosecution should have resulted in death and human suffering on such a vast scale constitutes an indictment of every person who has conducted or supported this wicked undertaking from its outset.

The Mexican people are showing in many ways, and with unprecedented determination, that they are completely fed up with this gringo-prompted war in which, in recent years, they have become the most devastated victims. Governments that treat their people in this way have no legitimacy whatsoever. They deserve to be brought down. And if the people of Mexico bring down Calderon’s government, then peaceful, rights-respecting people everywhere will have reason to cheer and hope.

However, not until the source of this manifest wickedness, the government of the United States, is also brought down will be world be able to believe that justice might be reestablished and human rights elevated to a higher plane. Aside from Puritan busybodies who take pleasure in bullying their neighbors and causing them to suffer, government officials and their palace guards — pandering politicians, the police, the prosecutors, and the prison-industrial complex — are the only real beneficiaries of this horrendous policy. This fact alone justifies its immediate termination. Yet, because the government’s tyrannical apparatus benefits so greatly, it will fight with every resource at its disposal to hang onto this evil undertaking.

Children who encounter something called the Hundred Years’ War in their history books must sometimes wonder what possessed people to keep them fighting for a century. If it seems crazy, however, one need only recall that we are just three years away from the one-hundredth anniversary of the enactment of the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914. An even worse statute, the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, as amended, has now been in force for more than forty years, and no prospect of its repeal looms on the horizon. In our eyes the Europeans who continued to slaughter one another more or less continuously from 1337 and 1453 seem like madmen. Future historians may well look back at our War on Drugs with equal incomprehension and dismay.

Robert Higgs is Senior Fellow in Political Economy at the Independent Institute, author or editor of over fourteen Independent books, and Editor at Large of Independent’s quarterly journal The Independent Review.
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