08/12/12 Charles Bowden

Charles Bowden and Molly Molloy discuss the horrors of the drug war in Mexico, Rafael Fern?├ö├Â┬úÔö¼├¡ndez de Castro HuffPo: My perspective on the drug war

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Sunday, August 12, 2012
Charles Bowden



Cultural Baggage / August 12, 2012


Broadcasting on the Drug Truth Network, this is Cultural Baggage.

“It’s not only inhumane, it is really fundamentally Un-American.”

“No more! Drug War!” “No more! Drug War!”
“No more! Drug War!” “No more! Drug War!”

DEAN BECKER: My Name is Dean Becker. I don’t condone or encourage the use of any drugs, legal or illegal. I report the unvarnished truth about the pharmaceutical, banking, prison and judicial nightmare that feeds on Eternal Drug War.


DEAN BECKER: Thank you for being with us on this edition of Cultural Baggage. This week starts the Caravan for Peace, a journey across America to talk about the horrors being inflicted in the nation of Mexico. Here to talk about it are Molly Molloy and Charles Bowden. They’re co-authors of “El Sicario” and, of course, Charles is author of “Murder City: Ciudad Juarez and the global economy’s new killing fields.”

This is a situation that needs to be addressed that can no longer be ignored – these horrors that we inflict on the nation of Mexico. Am I correct?

MOLLY MOLLOY: I think that’s true and one of the things that we said for, gosh, going on more than a year now is that the numbers released by both the Mexican government and then repeated over and over in the U.S. media of the number of people killed in Mexico is much smaller than the number of people that have actually been killed.

DEAN BECKER: Right. I often hear the number 50,000 quoted but I’ve heard 60, 70 and even 100,000 deaths. It’s impossible to know the exact number though isn’t it?


CHARLES BOWDEN: If 50,000 Mexicans are dead there’s another 40 or 50,000 lying in graves that will be glad to know they’re not dead. This number is not simply inaccurate this is a deliberate lie and everybody knows it’s higher including the Mexican government.

Their number now…their new number of 83,000 or the new number that came out without their help can’t even get the murder/deaths in four states down there. This is a catastrophe. More Mexicans have been slaughtered since Calderon was elected than U.S. forces in the entire length of the Vietnam war lost. We lost 60,000 people in Vietnam. This isn’t tiny. The fact that the press keeps using the wrong number consistently makes them complicit. We should call it “the good German press” not the American press. Here, Molly wants to say something.

MOLLY MOLLOY: Well I’ve been sort of a fanatic on these numbers. There are numbers out there that you can get and try to determine how many Mexicans have been murdered/killed – the victims of homicide – since Calderon took office at the end of 2006 and even using the most stodgy compilations put out by different agencies in Mexico it basic adds up to about 100,000 as of the end of June 2012. This is in a period of six years or less than six years. By the end of Calderon’s term, the first of December 2012, by my estimate it’s going to be somewhere between 105 and 110,000.

That is in a very small span of time. One of the comparisons I like to use is (just because I happen to hear it one day on the radio) in the Philippines there’s been a gorilla war going on for about 40 years and in that 40 year period about 40,000 people were killed and at the time that was in the news a year or so ago, couple years ago now. There had already been 40,000 people killed in Mexico in 4 years so the killing in Mexico during the span of Calderon’s term or the span of the drug war or whatever term you want to use to call it has basically killed I think by now over 100,000 Mexican citizens. It’s a phenomenal death toll.

DEAN BECKER: Again, that was Molly Molloy. She and her co-author, Charles Bowden, are speaking with us now.

Molly, you and Charles had a piece in the Dallas Observer, “Mexicans pay in blood for America’s War on Drugs.” Included on that same date was an article from you, Molly, talking about those death tolls, correct?

MOLLY MOLLOY: Yeah, that’s right.

DEAN BECKER: The thing that I think is lacking is an honest examination of what’s going on. We have so many politicians on both sides of the border and every nation on earth that choose not to look at the harms inflicted by the drug war - just choosing to go down this same failed path. Your response, Mr. Charles Bowden.

CHARLES BOWDEN: Gladly. What we’re doing with what we call our drug war is dislocating the Mexican economy by pumping at least 30 to 50 billion a year into criminal activities there.

I don’t like the term War on Drugs or drug war because it’s a lie. There are more drugs in this country than the day I was born and, frankly, there’s more drugs in this country than when I used to go around stoned out of my head in college. This isn’t a war – it’s a farce.

What it is is a drug prohibition to prop up a police state in the United States and to give us an excuse (like the camel’s nose under the tent) to intervene in Mexico. We’re now helping them to learn how to use drones. We’re teaching them how to destroy all kinds of privacy in telecommunications. We’re giving them 500 million dollars a year which they’re using, not hypothetically but literally the Mexican military, to go out and kill Mexicans they don’t like – which means social cleansing not killing drug dealers. They can’t be really hurting drug dealers because any fool, drunk or sober, can walk around the United States and find drugs easily and the price isn’t up.

So this is a shadow thing. It’s part of a kind of long-term U.S. policy and a lot of nations intervene and try to control them. My objections are many but I’ll give you two off the top.

We don’t talk about it and it is slaughtering a generation of Mexicans. I’ll let Molly bytuperate.

MOLLY MOLLOY: Well, Chuck says it probably better or at least more forcefully than I do. I do believe that the evidence…If you look at the Mexican press every day, which is what I try to do to keep track of what’s going on to give Americans a reality check, is that most of the people being killed are ordinary poor people. Some of them may be selling drugs on the side. Many of them are just poor people trying to make a living through petty theft, prostitution – various kinds of street crime.

In the city of Juarez, which is the city we pay most attention to, I believe, since Charles starting working on his book “Murder City” back in 2008, in Juarez the police chief, himself, Julian Leyzaola who is a former military officer, basically admits that he has been dividing the city into sectors and going in and cleaning it up sector by sector. Then he sort of does this slight of hand with the newspaper saying there’s groups out there basically going in and getting rid of pushers and prostitutes and cleaning up and just killing people without any due process. He says these are mysterious groups and he doesn’t know who they are.

Well, basically, it’s the police themselves. It’s vigilante groups, perhaps, or special paramilitary groups but they are funded and operated by the police and military. This has been going on now in Mexico for at least 6 years and, actually, if you look into Mexican history going back to 1968 at the earliest, this kind of operation by the forces of the state against people who are seen as opposition to the state – whether it’s students, labor activist, social activist – the Mexican state feels that it can go in and kill those people, get rid of them and the place will be better off. That is the way they’ve operated against their own citizens now for at least 50 years and probably much longer.

DEAN BECKER: Molly, so what you’re saying here is that many of these murders are foisted as being a response to the drug war but it’s just a means for social cleansing.

MOLLY MOLLOY: That’s what I think is going on. I think history will bear it out. I think there’s a lot of data out there. There are news stories. There are human rights groups that are keeping track of the people who are being killed who are trying to account for all of their names and what they are doing at the time they were killed.

One of the best pieces of evidence, I believe…I believe that we cited it in the story that you mentioned that was in the Dallas Observer last week. An excellent reporter at El Diario, Sandra Rodriguez, she used the Mexican Freedom of Information act to get access to over 3,000 homicide case files from the state of Chihuahua from 2010 to 2011 – 3,000 case files for about a year’s period.

In the process of investigating those case files one of the things that she found out was that only about 50 out of 3,000 cases were there weapons near the victims of the crime meaning that if this is a drug war and these are gangs of drug criminals fighting it out on the street apparently only one side is armed. In other words most of the victims laying there on the street they never had a weapon. There was no weapon near their body. The fact is these were people who were just shot down in cold blood.

I think that little bit of evidence…I honestly believe that writing that in the piece that Charles and I did that you referred to is the only time that that’s appeared in the English language press. And yet this appeared in the El Diario. It was a bona fide piece of journalism by one of the best reporters in the country and I let it be known to people that I communicate with through my email list and website and yet none of the American press picked it up. None of the American press asked the question, “Well, if there are no weapons next to the victims then who is killing them?”

DEAN BECKER: And for what?!

This brings to mind…we were talking about the murders oft times being a type of social cleansing but there is the involvement, the cooperation, the nexus between law enforcement and the military and these cartels. They do this for money, for profit as well, right?

MOLLY MOLLOY: Absoultely.

CHARLES BOWDEN: It’s not an accident - without the drug industry Mexico would collapse. The drug industry in Mexico only operates with the consent, cooperation and sharing of profit with the Mexican government. This is not new. This has been going on for decades.

To give 500 million a year to them to fight drugs is an act of lunacy. You might as well send a trainload of whiskey to an alcoholic. This changes nothing. All we’ve done is arm the Mexican government with better weapons so they can go out and murder its own citizens.

I’ll make this simple. I wouldn’t want any of these listeners to become confused by my muddled thinking.

Mexico is a totally corrupt oligarchy. It is supported by another oligarchy – the United States. They are both working together to slaughter the poor. The people that have the gumption to get out, to come through the wire, then we hunt them down here like animals because they want to survive. “There’ll be film at 5.”

Here’s Molly.

MOLLY MOLLOY: If I can rephrase some of what Chuck said. I think we have to look at this in terms of the power. What constitutes power in Mexico?

In Mexico it’s a nexus between a huge economy created by the drug business and there are people at all levels of the Mexican government (both in the army and all of the different police forces across the country and also politicians, governors.) There have been three or four state governors or former state governors in the last month that have been arrested. Some of them have been extradited to the United States and a couple of them have pled guilty to being involved in drug trafficking.

The governors of Mexico are one of the major enforces of this power structure and this illegitimate economy in that they obtain power as elected (or supposedly freely elected governors of their states) and then they use their office to basically become drug kingpins to funnel resources into the various police forces that they head up as governors of the state in order to facilitate drug trafficking through their region and they take a goodly share of the profits for themselves.

In a kind of overly simplified way is the way the Mexican state works.

DEAN BECKER: Once again, we’re speaking with that was Molly Molloy and her co-author of the book “El Sicario”, Charles Bowden. We’re talking about the situation in Mexico.

This is not an aspect that you guys have delved into or that I’ve read too much about but the fact of the matter is more and more major, international banks are being caught with their hands in the till so to speak. Laundering billions of dollars for these drug cartels, terrorists and other bad actors and yet none of these bankers ever get arrested or go to jail. Yet here in the U.S. if you got a bag of weed you’re sure to be arrested.

Let’s talk about the application of justice and sensibility in this drug war, please.

CHARLES BOWDEN: I’ll answer part of that. In the United States we’ve created the largest prison in the world and stuffed it with people that use drugs who are poor. Everybody here knows that if you’re a lawyer caught with cocaine you’re going to treatment. If you’re standing on the corner selling a tiny bag of crack you go to prison.

In Mexico there functionally is no justice system. There’s a film called, “Presumed Guilty” that every one of your listeners should look at. It is the best single explanation of the justice system. It tracks one case where a guy’s framed. It was made by two Mexican Nationals. One of whom or both of whom are an attorney. That is the system.

The system there is to use the courts, the police and the military to crush any possible threat to the state. The state is about creating one of the most unequal income systems in the world. Mexico is a place where you’re very rich or you’re barely making it.

Ever couple years there’s a new statistic showing everything is getting better. Every couple years later it turns out it wasn’t true. Now that’s the circumstance.

The War on Drugs or the drug industry is something laid on top of this. It didn’t corrupt the country – it just pumped more money in.

The banking system is one thought I think your listeners should know. In the early ‘90s three venues – I think it’s CitiCorp, CitiBank whatever they all may call it now in New York – inside there’s a private bank made for the big customers. One of those venues is meant to pump money out of the country was the brother of the President of Mexico. The other man using it to pump money out of the country was the President of Mexico, Carlos Salinas. The third man using exactly the same bank and exactly the same person in the bank to pump money out of the country was Amado Carrillo. They had a Juarez drug organization.

So this stuff of finding out banks are laundering money, etc. – that’s nothing new. Why the hell shouldn’t the drug people do it?! Mitt Romney can.

Here’s Molly.

MOLLY MOLLOY: One of the things that I think we all have to realize is that even though a lot of the money generated by the drug trade is generated through criminal activity and illegal activity the money doesn’t stay illegal for long at all. It’s very, very quickly invested in businesses, restaurants, hotels, dress shops – all of these kinds of businesses that exist in Mexico and that legitimate people make good money off of.

A lot of the money I think gets funneled into the big industries in Mexico such as the export industry – the maquiladoras - that hire people at slave wages and then ship the products back across to the United States to go into our cars and televisions and other appliances.

In other words because of the international banking system and the way it works a lot of the money and a lot of the capital that’s generated through the activities of the drug dealers almost immediately gets into the international banking system and then it’s very hard to pin the crime on anybody.

One of the biggest scandals that I read about in Mexico this year was caused by Walmart in Mexico. There was a whistle blower who had worked within the organization as an accountant in Mexico and discovered that the company was paying for permits, building permits, paying off government officials at all levels everywhere in Mexico and it’s only because of that illegal activity that the Walmart franchise has now become the biggest private employer in the country of Mexico. It was done through illegal means.

DEAN BECKER: Once again, we’re speaking with Molly Molloy and Charles Bowden.

Now December of this year the new President of Mexico, Nieto, is going to take office. Is it going to make any difference? What do you think?

CHARLES BOWDEN: It’s not going to make a big difference. His party has a different set of initials.

Look, he’s the governor of a corrupt state. He represents the Free Party – a dictatorship that ran the country for over 70 years. There won’t be any except it might get worse.

You can’t…this isn’t like let’s just have a minor reform. This thing runs deep. Over 17 states in Mexico now have experienced waves of violence since Calderon was president. You’re not going to put the genie back in the bottle.

A retired general in Mexico announced, “The state has lost control of 40% of the country.”

I don’t know if that’s true. What that means is the state is saying it’s going to use muscle to move into areas. So I don’t look for any good times but I’m not a Mexican. When I talk to Mexicans they convince me that their sense of what’s going on they talk about this thing taking 10 years to play out.

I hope they’re wrong and it doesn’t take that long but this is not an easy path. You’re in a Caravan for Peace – make sure you have good tires.

Here’s Molly.

MOLLY MOLLOY: I think that there is quite a bit of hope in Mexico that any change will be better than the status quo as it is right now. But I think if you look at the details of what’s going on just in one city, Juarez, which is definitely been the worse in terms of per capita violence in the country. I believe the statistics that came out from another Freedom of Information data collection that also was in El Diario this week, the state of Mexico where the new President, Enrique Peña Nieto, is from was second to the state of Chihuahua where Juarez is in terms of death but the state of Mexico is about 10 times as big as the state of Chihuahua in terms of population and had about one-fourth the amount of murders. So, by far, the state of Chihuahua, especially the city of Juarez, has been the epicenter of violence. We’re talking about a place, a city of about 1.2 million people, where over 11,000 people have been murdered just since 2007. It’s a huge number of people and the estimates in terms of the effects of that kind of violence…we have a good friend in Juarez who is a religious minister and counselor. He estimates that a minimum of 40 people are affected by every murder. So in that regard you’ve already go several hundreds of thousands of people that are directly affected by the violence. That’s not something that you can turn off and on like a light switch.

This all has to sort of work its way through the society through the individual efforts of people to try to heal themselves and society from this terrible violence. We have an estimate of maybe 40,000 orphans in the city of Juarez. In other words children who are growing up without one or both parents because of the violence. This is not something that can be fixed very easily.

And so the effects of that - even if no one was murdered or even if things went back to some sort of normal level of violence – we’re still going to be dealing with the effects of it for generations I think.

DEAN BECKER: Alright, friends, once again we’ve been speaking with Molly Molloy and Mr. Charles Bowden. They authors of “El Sicario”. I urge you to please check out their article in the Dallas Observer. You can look it up by using their names in the search engine: Charles Bowden or Molly Molloy. The name of the article, “Mexicans pay in blood for America’s War on Drugs.”

I will keep my tires inflated. Charles, I think that’s good advice even here in the United States you never know cartels or cops.

CHARLES BOWDEN: If you get a flat one I’ll supply you with hot air.

DEAN BECKER: Is there a website you guys would like to share with the listeners?

MOLLY MOLLOY: I have a news distribution website. You can go to http://fronteralist.org/ and you can see the postings that I provide about what’s actually going on in Mexico. I try to pick out things from the Mexican press and from other media every day and try to update people on what’s going on.


[Game show music]

DEAN BECKER: It’s time to play: Name That Drug by Its Side Effects.

Responsible for countless overdose deaths, uncounted diseases, international graft, greed and corruption, stilled science and events, unchristian moral postulations of fiction as fact.

{{{ Gong }}}

Time’s up!

The answer: and this Drug is the United States’ immoral, improper, bigoted, unscientific and plain F-ing evil addiction to Drug War.

All approved by the FDA, absolved by that American Medical Association and persecuted by Congress and the cops and in abeyance to the needs of the bankers, the pharmaceutical houses and the international drug cartels.
$550 billion a year can be very addicting.


RAFAEL FERNÁNDEZ DE CASTRO: I’m Rafael Fernández de Castro. I come from Mexico City. Right now I’m interning for the Drug Policy Alliance in the New York headquarters.

DEAN BECKER: Rafael, you recently had a great post on the Huffington Post. Tell folks about it.

RAFAEL FERNÁNDEZ DE CASTRO: I wrote a piece on my perspective as a Mexican student coming to the U.S. for college. I used to be really opposed to the legalization and regulation of drugs and marijuana because in Mexico if you think it is a taboo in the U.S. it’s even stronger taboo in Mexico.

Upon arriving in the U.S. and going to college here I realized that it was an unwinnable war just seeing all those students, the amount of drug use and drug culture in California. I suddenly realized that you can fight the cartels, you can fight drug trafficking but you really can’t fight this army of undergrads who are constantly consuming drugs and who are indirectly financing the drug cartels.

The thing is you have to go and tackle the drug cartels with a lot of intelligence. I think that’s where the strategy failed because that’s where…part of the strategy would be to legalize drugs…one of the main sources of income for the cartels and that way you would be hitting and giving a severe blow to their finances. Not win the drug war in Mexico but maybe improve the situation over there.

Right now we have over 60,000 deaths so far. Calderon is leaving office. My point is if he truly wants to leave a positive legacy or just give a sense of meaning to this war (if there is one) is for him to take a step forward and promote the debate, open up the debate and talk about legalization in Mexico and in the U.S.

DEAN BECKER: Alright, folks, we’ve been speaking with Mr. Rafael Fernández de Castro. He’s from Mexico and now working for the Drug Policy Alliance. He’s going to school here in the United States. I urge you to check out his post on the Huffington Post. It’s titled, “From Mexico City to Los Angeles: My perspective on the drug war.’


DEAN BECKER: I want to thank Rafael, Molly Molloy, Charles Bowden. I want to thank you for listening but mostly I want to encourage you to attend the Caravan for Peace. It’s going to making a trek across the southwest all the way over to Atlanta and go over to Chicago, New York, Baltimore and end up in Washington, D.C. around September 11 th. Please show up, stand up, speak up. Do your part. Show you recognize the horrors of this drug war and that you want to help bring it to an end. Please visit http://globalexchange.org/mexico/caravan

And, again, because of prohibition you don’t know what’s in that bag. Please, be careful.


DEAN BECKER: To the Drug Truth Network listeners around the world, this is Dean Becker for Cultural Baggage and the Unvarnished Truth.

Drug Truth Network archives are stored at the James A. Baker, III Institute for Policy Studies.

Tap dancing… on the edge… of an abyss.

Transcript provided by: Jo-D Harrison of www.DrugSense.org