April 20 in Mexico: Legalize Drugs to End the Drug War

Today on 4/20 the media’s buzzing with everything from recreational to economic arguments to decriminalize or legalize marijuana. Aside from the playful trending hashtags, the latest economic report on drug reform claims that decriminalization and legalization represent an estimated $13.7 billion per year in government savings and new tax revenue — attractive numbers in the midst of America’s national recession.

What’s often lost in these numbers, however, is the human toll that the War on Drugs has cost communities throughout the Americas. From the discriminatory legal system in the United States to the hyper-militarization of security forces abroad, the War on Drugs has been as ineffective as it has been expensive while wreaking havoc on communities on both sides of the border. 

For Mexico, the human toll has been particularly devastating. Since Mexican President and Bush-ally Felipe Calderon first launched Mexico’s drug wars in 2006, over 50,000 Mexicans have been killed with over 100,000 displaced from the spike in violence. On the sidelines are the American taxpayer, contributing upwards of $1.6 billion in aid, and predatory U.S. contractors, profiteering from the chaos since 2008. 

What began as a domestic U.S. battle has escalated into a transnational war that, despite the unprecedented militarization and tremendous financial investment, has failed to curb consumption, to decrease the violence, or to diminish the availability of illegal drugs.

The Mexican People Have “Had It Up To Here!”

Despite the unrelenting violence, Mexican victims of the Drug War are fighting back. Following the tragic murder of seven youths in Cuernavaca, Mexico, families of the victims and their communities founded the Movement for Peace with Justice & Dignity  (#MPJD), an anti-drug war campaign which places victims at the center of the movement. Their motto — “We’ve Had it Up to Here!” (“Estamos Hasta la Madre!”) — was first coined in a speech by prolific poet and organizer, Javier Sicilia, whose son was one of the seven youths violently murdered in March 2011.

In just one year, the Movement for Peace with Justice & Dignity has staged a series of strategic nonviolent actions across the country and solidarity demonstrations around the globe. Their movement confronts the systemic forces fueling the violence with a straight-forward but comprehensive demand: legalize drugs to end the violence.

On its one-year anniversary in Cuernavaca, organizers from around the world produced this video (Spanish version here) in support of the Movement for Peace with Justice & Dignity (#MPJD) and their demands for comprehensive drug reform throughout the region. 


To learn more about the #MPJD, follow NarcoNews for independent grassroots coverage. 

Video produced by Beth Geglia & Anna Day for NarcoNews.


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Anna Therese Day

Anna Therese Day is a freelance journalist, producer, and fiction writer. She is a 2013 Fulbright Fellow, a 2012 UN Press Fellow and was named one of Google Zeitgeist’s top 30 Great Young Minds of Our Time in 2011. On the ground in Bahrain, Brazil, Egypt, Gaza, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Mexico, the Palestinian Territories, Syria, and Turkey, her coverage focuses on American foreign policy, women’s issues, and youth organizing. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including CNN International, the BBC, Al Jazeera English, and numerous print outlets, translated into Arabic, English, Hebrew, and Spanish. Day is a founding board member of The Frontline Freelance Register, a representative body for freelance conflict journalists, by freelance conflict journalists. You can follow her on-the-ground at @AnnaOfArabia on Twitter or at www.AnnaThereseDay.com.

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