10/07/12 Jose Delaisla

Jose Delaisla columnist with Scripps Howard, Clay Jones Houston TV host, Michelle Alexander author of The New Jim Crow & Terry Nelson of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

Century of Lies
Sunday, October 7, 2012
Jose Delaisla
Scripps Howard News Service
Download: Audio icon COL_100712.mp3



Century of Lies / October 7, 2012


DEAN BECKER: The failure of Drug War is glaringly obvious to judges, cops, wardens, prosecutors and millions more. Now calling for decriminalization, legalization, the end of prohibition. Let us investigate the Century of Lies.


DEAN BECKER: Alright folks, tomorrow’s my birthday. Today I’m treating myself. I’m wearing my “es tomos hasta la madre” t-shirt made on a sidewalk I think in Baltimore – somewhere up that way by members of the Caravan for Peace. I’m wearing my LEAP hat. I’m been speaking more and more to different organizations for LEAP.

I’m proud to have with us a gentleman I met in Baltimore. We were out eating sandwiches under the trees, talking about our experience. He’s a reporter who’s been covering the Mexican beat for quite some time. With that I want to welcome Jose Delaisla. How are you doing, Jose?

JOSE DELAISLA: How are you, Dean? Happy Birthday and happy anniversary to your program.

DEAN BECKER: Thank you. The heck of it is I was speaking to my earlier guest about the fact that everybody seems to get it these days. I don’t know if it’s the majority but there are a lot of very intelligent people out there that beginning to get that this drug war makes no sense. Am I right?

JOSE DELAISLA: Well, yeah and that’s a nice protracted conversation we can have getting it and not getting it which has been an area of my concern for a long time and largely why I became a journalist and now I am a columnist with Scripps Howard News Service.

We have a number of issues - one of them being the drug war that has been long-standing and for reasons we can speculate upon rational knowledge does not penetrate very far. I don’t know and I’m dubious about a lot of conventional truth. I really want to speculate out loud, if I may, along with you and with your audience about that.

DEAN BECKER: OK. I want to inform you, Jose, and the listening audience that I have with me in studio my good friend, Mr. Clay Jones. He has an Access Television program here in town, “Drugs, Crime and Politics.” Say hello, Clay.

CLAY JONES: How are you doing, Dean?

JOSE DELAISLA: Clay, how are you?

CLAY JONES: Very good. How are you?

JOSE DELAISLA: Fine. Good to hear your voice.

DEAN BECKER: Clay had a serious accident years ago. He had a definite need for medical marijuana from time to time and it’s a subject very near and dear to his heart and mine for that matter.

I want to talk if we can, Jose, you’ve had your time in Mexico. I’ve been afraid to go down there for the 10 years or so. You’ve had your chances to report from there haven’t you?

JOSE DELAISLA: I live part of the year in Mexico City. I work from Mexico City and I write from there. I also am working on a couple of books and I’m doing my column and covering politics.

So, yes, I work from Mexico City and I know that whenever I’m in the U.S. I get the same questions over and over again because the presumption is, for instance, if there’s a shooting in Bel Air then that means the whole of Houston is under siege and that’s kind of the way we sort of look at Mexico.

Tijuana is one place. Ciudad Juarez is another. The state of Coahuila is another. There are places that are dangerous. No question about that. I don’t want to mislead anyone. There are also many, many, many areas that are not only quite safe but if you are doing safe things you are not endangering yourself or your safety in any way.

That message is very hard to get across and so I don’t want to encourage anyone to go out there and do whatever they want wherever they want to but it is the same in any community where you have to be knowledgeable about where you’re going and what your business is.

DEAN BECKER: OK. That makes sense. I should throw a blanket over the whole country. I hear you.

The fact of the matter is I used to enjoy going to the border towns – Ciudad Juarez, Matamoras – down there around Brownsville.

JOSE DELAISLA: Sure. It’s not that way very much anymore. You have to know what you’re doing and where you are going and with whom.

DEAN BECKER: I just feel with the reporting I do…I don’t know…I guess it’s not obvious as I walk around but it’s like I would stick out like a sore thumb.

JOSE DELAISLA: Also keep in mind that one million or two million people cross the border every day. Yes, we do read things in the newspaper and yes, they do alarm us but it’s not as if…and we created a closed border mentality after 9/11 and seemed to have locked into that vision and assume that it’s sort of a lock down. That’s not it at all.

That’s also the kind of projection that seeps into presidential elections. As a matter of fact the border is very fluid for our national necessity in terms of the kind of trade that’s taking place between the two countries because Mexico is, I think, the United States second or third largest trading partner.

There’s co-manufacturing. Lots of our jobs and our incomes are dependent on that trade taking place and those people moving across every day. Those are the kinds of things the public acknowledges that are very difficult for many people who don’t live on the border are near it to visualize so they rely on writers. If the story is a murder story or a narco story then people are going to get one type of impression.

When I’m in Houston and go walk into my insurance agent to renew my policy because I’m going to be here for a few months what happens they immediately question me about where I’ve been and what is it really like over there. It’s hard to imagine…

Let me just describe. Mexico City is a vibrant, cultural capital of the world. A relatively safe city like any large city would be. It is alive and vibrant and people on the street doing many family things and it’s really a very enjoyable city.

But try to get me to convince someone of that …their notions are very powerful.

CLAY JONES: I lived in Morelia, Michoacan for four years from ‘95 to ’99. It was extremely peaceful when I was there. Yeah, there was the narco stuff going on. I drove out to have a picnic in the country and had a shotgun pointed at me and was told to turn around and go back.

It wasn’t the upheaval that we all are hearing about.

DEAN BECKER: Again, there’s been so much focus to bear on the 60,000 dead and the violence say in Ciudad Juarez that it still echoes in my head. I agree with you, Jose, that it’s not all that we think it is. It’s not as bad as we thought it is.

When we were in Baltimore…that was my first time in Baltimore. How about you, Jose? Had you been there before?

JOSE DELAISLA: I’m in Washington, D.C. tonight and I’ve lived in the Washington area off and on for a couple of decades…

DEAN BECKER: What I’m saying is for me that was my first realization…recognition that the story, “The Wire”, that television show is not fiction. Maybe it’s fiction but it’s based in a lot of reality. Your response, Jose Delaisla.

JOSE DELAISLA: Well, you’re talking about most large cities in the country. They’re going to have places like that. I also saw some beautiful parts of Baltimore. When we’re talking about Mexico or how places get characterized…and I think that’s part of the fiction that we live under.

We live under an operational fiction. We were talking about Mexico City. You and I witnessed some lovely, beautiful parts of Baltimore – John Hopkins University and so forth. Park was glorious where we had our meeting and similarly there were some places that were vacant, a lot of vacant buildings, a lot of derelict buildings and certainly areas that are almost stereotypical bombed out sections of town with no redevelopment whatsoever and some that are in between.

I think that is used as our projection that something is not right when you have very valuable buildings and they are not being used in some capacity. It looks like the economic circumstances go hand in hand when we’re talking about the drug war and where are we putting our resources and what better use could we have for our resources.

DEAN BECKER: So true and that’s the underlying question. There’s got to be a better way. Maybe legalization isn’t…won’t be the first step but hopefully we can walk away from what has proven itself to be a failed path.

JOSE DELAISLA: That’s right. Let me also reintroduce myself. In the 1970s I was the director, the administrator of the Drug Abuse Council in Washington, D.C. The Drug Abuse Council had one of the first think tanks on drug abuse policy. That was at the time of the Nixon administration just as the so-called War on Drugs was invented.

The administration at that time chose to go in one direction which evolved. It didn’t start out full blown but there was a law enforcement part of it and there was a rehab, if you will, - some measures taken to deal with narcotic addiction primarily.

DEAN BECKER: Well, there was more money devoted on that side in the beginning, yes.

JOSE DELAISLA: That’s right and NIDA was created – the National Institute on Drug Abuse and others and the United States was foremost in research in areas of alcoholism and drug abuse.

What intelligence was created with those huge investments that have been made now for 40 years. That’s the part that some of don’t get or I don’t get and that is was our investment to develop knowledge and understanding so that we would make ourselves smarter and have better policies because that’s not what happened.

Evidently we have not been using the information that we have paid for. In other words, we didn’t like the prescription so we changed our mind and decided to do uneconomic and harmful things to our society.

So where does intelligence come in? We have international reports …there was a council headed up by the former president of Mexico, Ernesto Sodi, and others who have issued…even there was a meeting with various presidents in Latin America who have all called for the same thing that for some reason don’t seem to seep through. What they mean or what they are saying seems to not penetrate.

We keep talking to the chorus and I wonder who are the undecideds and what do they need to know or what do they need to understand in order to see that, at the very least, we cannot continue on the path we have been on for forty years.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, what do they need? What in the heck could it be?

JOSE DELAISLA: Well, I think that’s a question to continuously ask out there in the public because we have the testimonials of family members, families of police officers, people of the 10,000 who are missing, the 70,000 who have been murdered, the 160,000 who are displaced. At some point we have to say, “Look, the costs are too high.”

We’re talking to the wrong people. We need to talk to ourselves and among ourselves as citizens to say, “What do we need to do?”

I think that’s where Javier Sicilia has done. He’s taken it out of the hands of the politicians who have had 40 years, 40 years and the policy analysts of whom I was one and the schools of public policy and the think tanks and take the issue away from them and tell them we are going to have community meetings to talk about how to displace you because you have not been doing what is clearly your mandate. And that is to bring about dignity, justice and peace to our communities and that’s what Javier Sicilia epitomized.

DEAN BECKER: Indeed. Again friends, we’re speaking with Jose Delaisla. He’s a reporter with Scripps Howard.

It is beginning to go across…Just a couple days ago Michelle Alexander, author of “The New Jim Crow”, was here in Houston. She spoke and you could hear the understanding, the recognition in the crowd just the way they would gasp or understand about certain things she said. She had the opportunity to speak with Javier and here’s a little bit of her new understanding following her discussions with Javier Sicilia.

We’ll be back here in just a couple minutes.


MICHELLE ALEXANDER: I think it’s just a profound significance. This caravan represents one of the most important opportunities for us to link what is happening in Mexico - the violence, the sufferings, the needless deaths - with the needless suffering here in the United States – mass incarceration, the destruction of families and communities and the birth of a new cast-like system where young people are swept into prisons and jails often before they’re old enough to vote, saddled with records that will lock them into a permanent second class status for life.

I confess that I was largely ignorant of the level of violence that existed in Mexico until relatively recently. But as I have learned more and my eyes have been opened more by the courageous, truly fearless advocates in Mexico who have been speaking up and speaking out about the horrors on the other side of the border I have become more and more convinced that this is a shared struggle.

The struggle to end mass incarceration is one in the same as the struggle to end drug war and the needless violence in Mexico. On both sides of the border what we have are people who have tremendous amounts of power unwilling to end a drug war that is causing needless suffering to countless families. Poor people, people of color on both sides of the border have been treated as though their lives do not count. Their fates are of little concern.

As Howard Thurman pointed out quite some time ago, “There are few things more devastating than to have it burned into you from birth that you do not count and that no provisions are made for your literal survival.”

That is true in the United States as the drug war has been waged almost exclusively on poor communities of color and it is true on the other side of the border. I hope that people of all colors, people of faith and conscious on both sides of the border will join hands together, as they are demonstrating through this caravan, and cry out, “Enough!”


DEAN BECKER: Enough indeed. I’m wearing my shirt, “es tomos hasta la madre” today. It was made on a sidewalk up in Baltimore I think.

This is time. This is sufficient time to call this drug war what it is.

I understand that we’ve lost our guest for the moment. We were speaking with Jose Delaisla. We’ll see if we can get him back.

I do have with me here in studio Mr. Clay Jones of Houston NORML and the Drug Policy Forum of Texas. He has a local access program called “Drugs, Crime and Politics.”

Clay, the fact of the matter is we, here in Houston, we have the opportunity to change this. There are laws on the books that could change this but our politicians refuse to recognize those laws – in particular House Bill 2391.

CLAY JONES: That’s my pet peeve. About one-third of our county jail…those prisoners are in there serving time. The second third of people in our county jail are the people you and I need to be protected from – the murderers, people that…

DEAN BECKER: …the bad guys.

CLAY JONES: The bad guys. That last third is the third that is very questionable. We arrest these young people on minor charges – misdemeanors, small felonies – we put them in jail and the judges hope that they bail out but if they don’t that’s just as well because they’re more apt to plead guilty just to get out there.

That starts these young people on a direct downward spiral…no jobs…

DEAN BECKER: …can’t make the car payment…

CLAY JONES: can’t make the car payment. Just think, if somebody gets a minor charge and they go to jail and they lose their job and their wife is pregnant – now they have no insurance.

Because of our small mindedness, our leaders here in community, that won’t indoctrinate this resolution so that we can just write a citation…

DEAN BECKER: Let’s tell the listeners a little bit about that. House Bill 2391 says it’s no longer necessary to arrest or jail anybody for under 4 ounces of weed, for writing checks under $500, for all of these misdemeanor type charges…

CLAY JONES: …and graffiti…

DEAN BECKER: …and graffiti and all these types of things that kids get arrested for every day. Tens of thousands of people have been locked up for absolutely no reason other than the judges want them to make bail through the bail bondsman who are their number one source of financial aid when it comes time to get reelected.

CLAY JONES: Yes, judges are politicians.

DEAN BECKER: We do have our guest back with now, Jose Delaisla, a reporter for Scripps Howard, a columnist now for Scripps Howard.

Jose, we got a couple minutes left. You heard that segment with Michelle Alexander, right? She was hitting the nail on the head, correct?

JOSE DELAISLA: I missed most of that…I got cut off.

DEAN BECKER: OK. She was talking about she recognizes the…there’s a comparative dimunition of rights of people with less money. How many of those folks who are enticed to join the gangs …well, hell, you give them a gun and a pair of car keys – they’re going to go to work for you.

We have must the same thing here where people without economic opportunity, “Well, I guess I’ll sell drugs because there ain’t nothing else.”

Your thought there, sir.

JOSE DELAISLA: I think that’s not an area to dispute. The question is when interventions don’t take place in a timely manner evidently a culture sets in and then we try to change the culture.

I would propose to you and your audience to consider that we have created a drug war culture that then becomes dependent on its various parts. It moves on. Since it’s been militarized if you look back 2 years ago you will see that there were leaks made about military intervention is necessary due to the organized crime activity.

So that’s the way cultures expand. Now I think we are in a process of deinstitutionalizing and that’s why the measures that Sicilia and others propose are so threatening because it deinstitutionalizes the drug war. It puts the matter back in the hands of people who know how to intervene – get the medical community, therapeutic community, job developers – in an issue of economy and integration into communities of individuals that need intervention.

I think this is a very critical moment and more important than ever for the general public to get a perspective. I don’t think it’s a new statistic that is convincing. I think it’s a new world view and that is exactly, as Clay was pointing out, how do you begin minimizing incrementally instead of escalating. How do we begin de-escalating this War on Drugs?

If we adopt at least a framework that we can generally agree to and talk about de-escalation in the same way that we can talk about it in Afghanistan, we can talk about it in Iraq but this is a 40-year-old war on drugs that we’re talking about. How do we de-escalate it?

It’s not by adding more soldiers or more arms or more capers like “Fast and Furious.” It’s done by disarming, by defunding, by de-capitalizing. You begin by rescuing parts of society – the young people, the people caught in human trafficking, the smuggler who are involved in moving goods back and forth. You begin dismantling it.

I have not heard of a radical solution in 40 years of the drug war until Javier Sicilia came along.

DEAN BECKER: I’ll tell you what. We’ve been speaking with Jose Delaisla. We’re going to have to cut it off there. He’s a columnist with Scripps Howard. Is there a website you’d like to point folks to? 10 seconds, Jose.

JOSE DELAISLA: Yes, why don’t they send me an email, joseisla3@yahoo.com

DEAN BECKER: Jose, thank you so much. We’re going to have to do this again.

JOSE DELAISLA: Great. Thank you, Dean.


TERRY NELSON: This is Terry Nelson of LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. I am going to share with you what I consider startling statistics regarding drug war casualties.

For years it has been widely accepted that more people were being murdered in Mexico, Central and South America than there were in the United States. That is one reason that the war has been allowed to go on for so long. If the deaths resulting from Prohibition were happening in the Unites States then they would not be acceptable. I just ask why it is acceptable in other countries when it would not be acceptable here. Is it because we don’t care about them? I don’t think so. I think it is just that we have become desensitised to the news about war and the resulting deaths.

We often hear in the news about the murder rates in Mexico which has now reached approximately 60 thousand in the past five years. But, what about American cities? Chicago has a murder rate of 19.4 per 100K residents. Detroit with 287 murders so far this year and up 10% over last year already. To compare Caracas Venezuela had 67 per 100K murder rate. And, these numbers are more than occur in Baghdad, Iraq.

These cities in America with the high murder rates are also, not surprisingly, cities with lower medium income. Let’s look at why this may be so. With the advent of Prohibition laws and the increase in arrests of violators we have marginalized tens of millions of our citizens. They are saddled with the drug arrest record or prison records and are unable to find good jobs. Without good jobs they are forced to live in depressed areas where they are more apt to be involved in illegal activities.

Overall, the FBI reports that villent crime is down in America as has been the trend for the past several years. It is only up in these depressed areas and this is a problem that has a solution. Legalization will remove approximately 80% of the crime and violence associated with drug trafficking and sales. The FBI also reports that there are approximately 1.4 million active street, OMG, and prison gang members, comprising more than 33,000 gangs, that are criminally active within all 50 US states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. This represents a 40 percent increase from an estimated 1 million gang members in 2009. And it is estimated that the cartels now strongly influence these gangs in 1,000 major U.S. Cities.

It’ time to change our strategy. We can educate our way out of the drug war but we will never arrest and incarcerate our way out.

We have lost more citizens in one U.S. city than we lost in Afghanistan last year. It seems that the American public is tired of our foreign wars and want them to end. Let’s shine the light on our domestic war on drugs and end it as well. We can achieve the results that have eluded us in the war through education and treatment.

This is Terry Nelson of LEAP, www.leap.cc signing off. Stay safe.


DEAN BECKER: Alright friends, I’ve not done this before. This is the last time I’ve ever going to do it. I want you to donate to KPFT – Kansas Pacific Freight Train. Please write a check to KPFT and send it to Dean Becker, 9639 Railton, Houston, Texas 77080.

I want to impress the program director, station manager. I want to get these shows separated – a couple days apart. Please contact Dean@drugtruth.net if you want to learn more.

As always I remind you that…well…I remind you Prohibido istac evilesco!


For the Drug Truth Network, this is Dean Becker asking you to examine our policy of Drug Prohibition.

The Century of Lies.

This show produced at the Pacifica studios of KPFT, Houston.

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