Los Desaparecidos

plural noun: desaparecidos
  1. (especially in Latin America), a person who has disappeared, presumed killed by members of the armed services, the police, or organized criminal gangs.

The sheer numbers are hard to fathom.

It’s conceivable, even probable, the death toll in Mexico from the US-led War on Drugs over the last ten years surpasses 100,000.  Statistics cited by news sources, and warnings from United Nations, indicate at least 10,000 and as many as 20,000 unsolved murders and disappearances per year – 5,000 or more per year for several years running in Cd. Juarez alone – attributable to a single phenomenon: the arrogance and stupidity of the American people with regard to illegal drugs.

By most definitions, this constitutes ongoing genocide immediately to our South and one of the most tragic human rights crises of the 21st century.  News media in the US seldom covers the continued suffering, though, because it’s not what Americans want to see.  We became jaded by reports of thousands dying right on our doorstep, so the news coverage stopped – but the killings didn’t.

We are responsible.  We own this.  It’s not a Mexican problem.  It’s not a Latin American problem.  It is our problem.

For whatever reason we’ve persisted in the belief that addiction is caused by drugs, and that stopping the flow of drugs to the streets of the US will miraculously cure addiction.  Not only does this worsen addiction by driving the addict underground to a world of shame and crime, it is causing enormous loss of human life in Mexico.

Let me say this again.  Addiction is not caused by the availability of drugs.  The human sciences have given us extraordinary insight into the causes of addiction, but the availability of drugs is not one of them.  Ask any recovered addict, or any qualified specialist in addiction medicine.  Drug abuse is a symptom of addiction, not its cause.

Let’s try it again, but we’ll use some different terms.

Alcoholism is not caused by the availability of beverage alcohol.  The per capita number of alcoholics in the United States was not reduced by prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s.  In fact, the figures for late-stage or untreatable alcoholism went up – mainly because the disease was stigmatized and sufferers were abandoned to a world where dying from alcoholism was preferable to asking for help (and admitting to unlawful behavior).

More interestingly, the number of alcoholics per capita actually decreased following the repeal of prohibition; but there was no significant correlation between legality or availability of beverage alcohol and the numbers of alcoholics.

I’ve been paying attention to our country’s experiment with legalization of recreational marijuana.  It’s interesting.  I’ve not yet found a single report of anyone dying as a result of legal marijuana.  Yet thousands are dying in Mexico (and in the US) as a result of illegal marijuana.  Even more as a result of other illegal drugs.

The net net: legalization and administrative control of drugs in the US will not have any significant effect on the problem of addiction.

It simply will stop the killing.

It’s becoming evident to the people of the world that people in the United States suffer deeply from a ‘more is better’ attitude (common in the mindset of addiction), and a degree of collective selfishness and arrogance so cruel that we blindly cause the perpetration of heinous atrocities upon our nearest neighbors.

Do you care about the pain and suffering we are causing?  Do you care enough to question your own beliefs and arrogance about the disease of addiction?  If it were even slightly possible that legalizing drugs has little or no effect on the numbers of addicts in the US, but stops the senseless killing and tragedy in Mexico, would you endorse it?

Maybe not.  Maybe it will take a genuine holocaust to change our minds.  Hopefully, by that time, the world will have stepped in and what we think won’t matter.  We’ll be remembered by our selfies in social media.

The mass graves in Mexico will look no different in fifty years from the mass graves of Auschwitz and Choeung Ek.  Great power in the hands of people blinded by avarice and arrogance has always played badly on the stage of time and human experience.