Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Blame NAFTA for drug violence

Capitalism gone mad is to blame for the drug wars in Mexico, argues Ed Vulliamy in a Guardian op-ed, Ciudad Juarez is all our futures. Juarez, he says, is a model for the post-NAFTA capitalist economy.
...Recruits for the drug war come from the vast, sprawling maquiladora – bonded assembly plants where, for rock-bottom wages, workers make the goods that fill America's supermarket shelves or become America's automobiles, imported duty-free. Now, the corporations can do it cheaper in Asia, casually shedding their Mexican workers, and Juarez has become a teeming recruitment pool for the cartels and killers. It is a city that follows religiously the philosophy of a free market.
"It's a city based on markets and on trash," says Julián Cardona, a photographer who has chronicled the implosion. "Killing and drug addiction are activities in the economy, and the economy is based on what happens when you treat people like trash." Very much, then, a war for the 21st century.
The drug wars have been allowed to continue because politicians are addicted to the cash supplied by banks that launder money for the cartels, Vulliamy says. He quotes Antonio Maria Costa, the former head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, who says the drug wars result from,
...effective global government by multinational banks – banks that...have been for years kept afloat by laundering drug and criminal profits. Cartel bosses and street gangbangers cannot go around in trucks full of cash. They have to bank it – and politicians could throttle this river of money, as they have with actions against terrorist funding. But they choose not to, for obvious reasons: the good burgers of capitalism and their political quislings depend on this money...
If that sounds improbable, consider this Bloomberg story from about a year ago:
Wachovia ... had made a habit of helping move money for Mexican drug smugglers. Wells Fargo & Co., which bought Wachovia in 2008, has admitted in court that its unit failed to monitor and report suspected money laundering by narcotics traffickers -- including the cash used to buy four planes that shipped a total of 22 tons of cocaine....
Wachovia admitted it didn’t do enough to spot illicit funds in handling $378.4 billion for Mexican-currency-exchange houses from 2004 to 2007. That’s the largest violation of the Bank Secrecy Act, an anti-money-laundering law, in U.S. history -- a sum equal to one-third of Mexico’s current gross domestic product...
And we offer this tidbit, just in case you hadn't heard about the 40,000 people killed in the drug wars or the horrific things the cartels do, like
...sewing one victim's flayed face to a soccer ball or hanging decapitated corpses from bridges by the ankles; and innovative torture, such as dipping people into vats of acid so that their limbs evaporate while doctors keep the victim conscious.
It's all about control of the lucrative drug trade routes to the U.S. According to the Associated Press,
Last year, border guards seized a record 254,000 pounds of cocaine, 3.6 million pounds of marijuana, and 4,200 pounds of heroin. In response, Mexico's cartel bosses simply sent more: trainloads of marijuana, cocaine stuffed in fenders and dashboards, heroin packed into young men's shoes.
And we want to open our border to more Mexican trucks. Because of NAFTA. What a great idea.