Drug Trafficking: Enough is Enough!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Like alcohol and tobacco, the consumption of drugs is one’s personal responsibility. The harmful effects of consuming drugs must be made known. But as Araceli Manjón recently underscored, prohibiting drugs has been an enormous error, creating mafias that threaten the security of entire nations, traffickers that become murderers, and drug addicts who turn their lives and those of their families into an immense tragedy.

“Prohibition” was a failure. When prohibition was lifted, the Al Capones disappeared.

In May of this year I wrote a blog recommending decriminalization, as did the former Spanish President Felipe González a few days ago, amid much media attention.

In my May blog I wrote: "...given the dimension of drug trafficking and its economic and criminal impact, drug consumption affects society as a whole".

A large part of Afghanistan’s problems –and those involving the Taliban- would disappear if suddenly cultivating opium became unprofitable. 90% of the world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan. And each hectare of opium poppies yields 13,000 dollars... when cultivating grain earns less than 500.

The same would occur in Colombia and other American countries: if cocaine prices were to suddenly drop, the mafia violence generated by drug trafficking would finally come to an end.

Europe should lead this great decision, which some oppose in good faith, while others do so to defend the immense benefits they obtain... with no thought for the destruction of personal lives and families... and without having to listen to a guilty conscience, since they long ago sold their souls.

With this, as with so many other questions, we must take a radically different approach. We must consider the matter without prejudice, without taking up immovable positions and rejecting a priori any suggestion of change.

Yes, decriminalization, so that drugs will cost no more than a package of cigarettes or a bottle of wine. And the immediate closing of tax havens, which I recently supported (blog--3.05.10). Both are difficult measures due to the immense benefits they generate, and due to the inertia that prompts our “stable society” to reject any change of course.

Without drug trafficking and without the tax havens that support it, the world would suddenly be a better place.

Let’s awaken from our long slumber and raise our voices to make this happen, through Internet and all of the means at our disposal: drug trafficking, enough is enough!

"It’s time to rise up" (José Ángel Valente)

Monday, October 25, 2010

It’s time for action, for active resistance. Like the great Mario Benedetti’s recommendation to his son: "Son, / don’t give up, / please, don’t give in. /... Because each day is a new beginning".

Don’t give up! Now, more than ever, because change is now possible. Because citizen power can make itself known, thanks to modern communications technology that facilitates distance participation. Because there are more, many more of us each day who don’t want to continue as passive spectators, fainthearted and fearful, but rather we want to say that “we’ve had enough!” of an economic system based on greed, speculation and war, which has led the world to a profound multiple (financial, democratic, environmental, nutritional...) crisis.

The immense power of the media’s “massive entertainment” distracts and lulls us to sleep... without addressing the great global and local problems and challenges that we must face. And tax havens remain open, and all kinds of trafficking continue; and the exploitation of the natural resources of “developing countries” continues; and damage to the environment continues; and, although the most prosperous countries are armed to their teeth, they still lack adequate technology and personnel to respond to natural disasters (floods, fire, hurricanes, earthquakes...); and a group of plutocrats still seeks to rule the world, instead of reinforcing the United Nations and returning values and social justice to the forefront of political action.

For the first time, in a very few years, the influence of the “voice of the citizens”, freely expressed through SMS and Internet, will provide one of the guidelines for authentic democracy, which will no longer be limited to the ballot box.

Yes, it is time to take action, to speak up and to mobilize.

We must refuse to give up.

For that reason, as Pedro Salinas said in "Todo más claro", it is essential to realize that "When a tired man... / stops, / he betrays the world, because he fails / in his supreme duty, which is to continue on...".

And he added: "We tremble with future". Yes! We will tremble with future because –I enjoy repeating— that the future has yet to be built!

Adolfo Pérez Esquivel said that in these times resistance is more important than ever. Let’s follow his advice.

Eduardo Galeano, spur for the urgent mobilization of civil society

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

I think it is very important to underscore several aspects of Eduardo Galeano’s address delivered at the meeting sponsored IPS (Inter Press Service) and AECID (Spanish Agency for International Cooperation for Development) in Madrid on September 7, 2010.

Entitled "Some of the Capital Sins in a World Turned Upside Down”, he emphasized the importance of indigenous cultures; sexist traditions; failure to recognize reality; disdain for work; lies; fear and the "life is killing me" attitude...

Galeano said much that was of extraordinary interest. With his pleasant crosscurrent voice, he noted that “It is said that Núñez de Balboa was the first person to see both the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans at the same time.” And then he asked, “so the indigenous peoples were all blind?”

He underscored the naivety of so many citizens who passively accept the guidelines of the present economic system and act uopn its aberrant estimates and evaluations. "Before, price depended on value. Now, frequently, price determines value", he remarked.

How can we speak of “human capital"? "The nobodies, those who own nothing, those who never were and never will be, those who are not human beings but merely hands that work for others..." We should cease to use the expression “human capital”. All people are equal in dignity and every part of them is worthy, especially their heads and their hearts.

We will no longer remain silent, since to become the voice of the voiceless we must first listen. "If you don’t want to be mute, you should begin by not being deaf". All together, then, eyes wide open and ears pricked up. Especially journalists, whose vital profession precisely requires them to reflect events accurately.

He also mentioned the walls of shame existing in the world. The Berlin Wall fell, but what can we say of the one separating the U.S. and Mexico? or Israel and the West Bank? and the Moroccan wall in the Sahara?..." We still have to pull down many walls that are a collective shame clearly violating United Nations resolutions.

And lies... like the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq (thousands have died paying the price of that sinister deceit)... and news about the personal lives of show people that hide for a long time things that we should know...

But above all, fear. "Fear of losing our jobs or of not finding one... Men’s fear of fearless women, fear of the masses, fear of solitude, fear of living, fear of dying..."

Fear that is mentioned so prominently in the preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: "The exercise of those rights will free humanity from fear"... From the dawn of time we have feared the powerful on earth and beliefs from above, which threaten us with hellfire rather than offering us comfort, protection and love. Mercy. Friendship...

How long will we continue to accept a world order based on lies and fear?

They will take away our capacity to speak, they will immobilize us... but they can’t take away our ideas or the truth. He finished his presentation with an excellent anecdote: "A man was traveling from one town to another with two mules. He rode on one of the mules and on the other he had tied his harp. He was assaulted and wounded. When he recovered consciousness he exclaimed: "They’ve taken my mules and my harp. They’ve stolen everything... but my music!

September 21, International Day of Peace... another day that's gone unnoticed!

Monday, October 18, 2010

September 18 was the International Day Against Poverty. This past Saturday several events were held, some with massive participation and the publication of excellent manifestos, such as the "Alliance Against Poverty"... which didn't merit even a single mention in any of the major communications media. The press, television, radio... devote much time and space to news that are generally biased to reflect their political preferences, and they are extremely generous with anything related to "popular entertainment" -which may be the new "bubble"- while omitting any reference to the great challenges that have prompted the United Nations to devote to them a special "day ".

Citizens will never get the attention that their great personal and collective objectives deserve until the struggle against poverty, and the goals of peace and conciliation... are made part of their daily lives. Only then will they be able to unite their voices and demand that the communications media give them the attention that they so urgently need.

These dates are ignored because the "globalizers", who replaced democratic principles, values and social justice with the laws of the market, are not very interested in our ceasing to be silent and obedient subjects, permanent spectators of all types of sports events that they offer to keep us dormant.

Peace! We have wished each other "peace" for so many centuries that it has become a mere routine -peace be with you, salam, shalom...- but this doesn't influence our behavior because these are simply expressions that we have failed to actually internalize as something we truly desire. In the Catholic mass the word "peace" is repeated almost as often as the word "God", but contrary to what might be expected, not even the Church observes these days devoted to the great objectives of Mankind.

But, of course, on days commemorating past wars, parades and other activities are promptly broadcast, to fix in the minds of the people the importance of the military event in question.

We must thus transcend from a secular culture of force, violence and war to a culture of dialogue, understanding and peace. We will then be able to celebrate the days of fighting poverty and working for peace in the manner that they so deserve... And it won’t be long, because many citizens have realized that the time for silence and resignation is over. Today, and I’ll never tire of repeating this, distance participation is now possible through ICTs.

In that regard, in a few days, on October 2, the International Day of Non-Violence will be observed. I hope that, at least in cyberspace, many peoples’ voices will be heard.


Friday, October 15, 2010

The time for resignation and silence is over.

We can’t tolerate even one more day the collective shame of over 60,000 people who die each day of hunger and neglect, while 4,000 million dollars are devoted to military spending.

We cannot tolerate the fact that there was no money to support the Millennium Objectives but, suddenly, hundreds of thousands of millions were made available to “rescue” the same financial institutions that, with their greed and irresponsibility, led the world into a serious multiple (economic, democratic, political, environmental and ethical) crisis.

The “globalizers” replaced cooperation with exploitation, aid with loans, social justice and other values for the rules of the market. And the United Nations of all the people was replaced with groups of plutocrats (G-7, G-8, G-20).

In 2008 it was decided to take decisive action against tax havens and the lack of regulation. But nothing was done: unbridled military spending continued, tax havens are still open for business, and the wealthy feel no sense of solidarity.

And the economy of speculation and war continues its course. Nevertheless, the wealthiest nations, armed to the teeth, don’t even have the personal, technical and financial resources to reduce the impact of natural or man-made disasters. They have nuclear warheads, but they don’t know how to handle the consequences of earthquakes, fires or floods.

And production continues to be delocalized in the East, without consideration for working conditions or human rights.

And world governance continues in the hands of only a few countries, while the United Nations is ignored. And the World Trade Organization remain placed beyond its scope.

And no changes have been made in energy sources that pollute. And nothing is done about climate change.

The newly impoverished “rescuers” must now adjust their budgets and reduce their social welfare expenditures.

Those who brought us the dot-com and real estate bubbles, together with large flows of illegal immigration, now criticize those who have to face the consequences of poor neoliberal governance at both the local and international levels.

They are the same ones who comment in huge headlines that the number of the world’s inhabitants who suffer from hunger has decreased, as if they had actually done something to achieve this relative improvement, which is actually almost exclusively due to the efforts and know-how of the countries involved, such as India.

They are the same ones who distort financial reports and block the transition from a market economy to an economy of sustainable global development.

And are against of alternative sources of financing, such as taxes on financial international transactions.

For the first time in history we have a profound knowledge of the reality. For the first time in history, with the increased participation of women, we can make our voices heard loud and clear in the communications media, on Internet and through SMS.

Each day and from now on, thousands of millions of our fellow human beings will prevent us from forgetting, and prompt us into action.

This Alliance Against Poverty, in favor of human dignity, is currently supported by many associations and NGOs, but it must increase exponentially. Let’s soon cease to be mere subjects to become full citizens! Let’s quickly extend this throughout cyberspace, so that they will not only have to hear us, but will be obliged to listen to us too!

A new beginning is now possible. It’s possible for “the peoples”, united in peace, to dictate their own destiny, which is what genuine democracy is all about.

PAKISTAN, ANOTHER RESOUNDING FAILURE of the present system of world governance

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Another great tragedy ignored by the leading nations, which refuse to change their model:

-The same world management system (the G-20 instead of the United Nations);

-The same economic model (insisting that those who most consume should consume more, instead of extending less precarious living standards to a larger part of mankind through sustainable global development;

-The market instead of social values;

-Exploitation instead of cooperation;

-Speculation and tax havens instead of strict regulation and transparency;

Preparing for war -over 3,000 million dollars daily spent on arms (I’ll never tire of repeating this) while 60,000 people die of hunger- instead of, together with a United Nations Organization endowed with the pertinent means, creating the necessary alliances for international security and the means for building peace, to assist with all human and technical resources during natural or man-made disasters, in order to finally transcend from a culture of imposition, violence and domination to a culture of dialogue, understanding, conciliation and peace.

In the terrible situation in which it is in, Pakistan would only need an investment equal to ten days of military spending...

We must change. The people –lulled by the immense power of the media- haven’t yet reacted. But it won’t be long before they do.

We Share Martin Luther King’s Dream

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

The dream that one day blacks and whites and people of all races could live in America without discrimination, privileges or exclusion.

The dream that one day a black person could become president of the United States.

This dream has become a reality.

We had a dream, that extended to all of the world, for all peoples to live in peace, without making distinctions. “All equal in dignity”. All different, all united.

For that reason I deeply regret the rally that was staged at the same place on the Washington D.C. Mall on August 28. Ms. Palin organized a rally of far-right fanatics (who were all past immigrants) under the banner “Restoring Honor”. But, Ms. Palin, honor was restored years ago by Rosa Parks. Honor was restored by Martin Luther King. Honor was restored by all of the Americans who demonstrated to the world that they really believe in the equal dignity of all human beings.

Our dream is still the dream of 1963. And our dream is that of those whom you represent may reflect on the damage that their attitudes are doing to the U.S.

You, Ms. Palin, are anything but a dream. Rest assured that the immense majority of the inhabitants of the earth dream about achieving the dream that was so beautifully described at the Lincoln Memorial by the Reverend Martin Luther King.