The Media and the United States’ War on Drugs by Talía Garza Garza

I am a second year, PhD student on the Mexican drug war. My research up to date explores the questions of what has facilitated the infiltration of transnational organized criminal groups in Mexican state institutions. What are the effects of this development? Moreover, the underlying question is the visibility and invisibility of the disjunction/distortion between how the media portrays this and what happens in reality.

The United States participation in the War on Drugs has yet to be shown to be beneficial. This Huffington Post article referring to five Novel-Prize winning economists views on the matter – with  a picture slideshow and astonishing comments attached- demonstrates that a new strategy on the War on Drugs might be the best and possibly the only option to move forward.

 

That said, the London School of Economics published a report of why we should end the war on drugs. According to LSE, there are six points of why the war on drugs’ current policy is not working. The Daily Beast summarizes these six points:
1. A “drug-free world” is not plausible.
2. Realize that prohibition is not necessarily the problem.
3. But prohibition is not the answer, either.
4. Stop sacrificing basic human rights.
5. Put an end to mass imprisonment of drug offenders.
6. Make mistakes—then learn from them.
According to the Daily Beast, the misinformation in the media portrays an illusory and perhaps fictitious idea of the Mexican Drug War.

It is important for the public to have a more thorough understanding of the depth of the conflict than is provided by current coverage in mainstream news. Most of the coverage by the media (not only the news outlets, but also television, magazines, and maybe to an extent books) are novelized versions of the actual conflict. Journalist and author, Anabel Hernandez, as well as other authors, writes a dramatic and at times inaccurate view of the drug war, in order to sell books. Nevertheless, if you carefully check the books and the actual sources, it is clear that the information is inaccurate and not proven by concrete evidence. It seems that some of the published books about the topic are ideas and imagination, instead of facts and actual events, such as the number of deaths.
A shift of focus from the dramatics and the superficiality of the problem, towards scientific facts, implemented on public policies, will push humanity forward. This would be more helpful than fantasy stories about the drug war. These fantasy stories can have powerful consequences like slander and defamation, such as Jorge Carpizo McGregor’s lawsuit against Anabel Hernandez and Random House Mondadori. This was prompted by Hernandez’s slanderous reporting which caused Carpizo ‘moral damage’. Proceso magazine reported in 2012 that this went against journalistic ethics, which means that journalists cannot make up or falsify information.

It reminds me of Leo Tolstoy’s 1878 realist fiction, ‘Anna Karenina’, which explores various themes, such as moral decay, and is regarded by Time magazine as one of the greatest novels ever written. One of the key meanings from Anna Karenina is how one’s happiness, in this case money from books, cannot be built as a result of someone else’s sorrow, in this case slandering people.  If the Drugs War is to be solved, I think we need a model that adapts to the needs of Mexicans citizens, and does not serve as a means of control and hegemony by other countries on Mexico.

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