Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Travel to Northern Mexico?

Many media accounts miss the point about the hideous violence in Northern Mexico -- that is, the places where a lot of Americans do business or visit for leisure.

I've been there recently. Downtown Tijuana and Ensenada are bereft of tourists. So is Nogales. Great, nice-to-visit Mexican towns all. No business.

The drug-gang violence, as I have written, is staggering on the border areas, where 7,000 people have died, many in massacres, in a year.

In the northern Mexico, in an indication of how pathetic the problem is, shrines to the possibly mythological early 20th Century Mexican Robin Hood, one Jesus Maleverde, can be found anywhere in the hills outside of any town.

Saint Jesus, you see, has become the patron saint of drug gangs.

I took that picture above on a routine drive through Baja California, not long ago with a couple of American guys who work for a coastal environmental group.

The shrine was inscribed with graffiti from drug dealers thanking Saint Jesus Maleverde for the good quality of the crop and the pretty good business environment prevailing, not to mention his benevolence toward the drug lords.

So business travel and tourism on the Mexican side of the U.S. border is horrific. Violence is spilling out (to a very small and limited degree) onto U.S. border areas, reaching into drug environments as far as south Tucson. Get into a jam with a drug gang in south Tucson and you may well have a visit from an uninvited person.

But now the media puritans are shrieking that "addiction" in the U.S. market is driving the disaster. Addiction to what, I ask?

What "drugs," specifically, are we talking about here?

Heroin? Cocaine? Meth?

Uh, for the most part, the drug in question, the drug behind all of this mayhem, is that devil crabgrass, marijuana.

Reefer Madness! We can't venture into the Mexican border areas because of ... marijuana gangs? Mexico is about to become an out-of-control state because of pot?

Myself, I stopped smoking pot after fiddling around with it in the 1970s -- and for a very good reason. Pink Floyd sounded great, and even Saturday Night Live seemed funny (your brain on drugs!) -- but pot gave me the munchies to the extent that, had I continued, I would have become one of those great big 1,000-pound fat guys that on occasion turn up in photos in the New York Post being hoisted by tow-truck from their beds.

Still, let's remember: Most of this carnage in Mexico, and a lot of this hysteria on our border, would end if we focused on the actual problem and looked at the option of simply decriminalizing that devil crabgrass marijuana.



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