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Mexico’s Drug-induced Anarchy


I was surprised by a story last night from the Washington Post.  The article reports that “President Felipe Calderón told the Mexican people Wednesday that criminal organizations were seeking to topple the state, violence was growing worse, kidnapping and extortion were rampant, and the government needs their help.”  According to Calderón, “The behavior of the criminals has changed and become a defiance to the state, an attempt to replace the state.”

Issues cited by the article include:
•    extorting citizens and businesses,
•    demanding “war taxes” that allowed them to buy more powerful weapons,
•    a car bomb explosion at a police station,
•    more bombs being found,
•    gangs blocking the highway outside of Monterrey with a “narco-blockade,”
•    28,000 people having died in drug violence since December 2006,
•    963 clashes between criminal gangs and federal forces, and
•    bribes of $1.2 billion annually that are paid to municipal police officers.

A stable Mexico is in America’s vital interest.  The Obama Administration must do more than attempt to advance their domestic gun control agenda in the name of the 84,000 weapons, mostly purchased in the US, that have been seized by Mexican authorities.  While establishing a truly anonymous process by which Mexicans can report criminal activity to police via cell phones is innovative, it fails to fundamentally address the cause of the problem:  a culture of extra-legality created by non-objective laws–those laws not rooted in government’s sole proper role, which is protecting individual rights.

For a more detailed account of the culture of extra-legality, I refer you to the work of Peruvian economist Hernando de Soto, such as his book The Mystery of Capital.

Americans can not and should not aspire to fix non-objective Mexican laws, which are the responsibility of the Mexican Congress and local Mexican governments. However, non-objective American laws contribute to the problems in Mexico and we should in light of that evidence correct them out of our own selfish interests.

There are two principle non-objective areas of law relevant to the problems evidenced in Mexico and which foster related extra-legality:  (1) immigration and (2) drug prohibition.

On immigration, the fundamental issue related to American interests is not the superficial identification that illegals are illegal, but instead that American immigration laws are a miserable failure and must be corrected in light of the evidence from Reality.  While American conservatives champion a Ted Kennedy sponsored immigration statute because it has the virtue of being old, doing the necessary work of correcting a bad law is evaded.  A proper course for American immigration policy rooted in American values has been outlined by philosopher Harry Binswanger, and I commend that plan.

On drug prohibition, like wrong headed ideas of gun prohibition and before that alcohol prohibition, the government’s attempt to prohibit individual choice has empowered and enriched criminals by granting them a commercial monopoly, which they enforce with violence.  I agree with former Latin American presidents, Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico, César Gaviria of Colombia and Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brazil that America’s War on Drugs has been a failure.  While they advocate legalization of marijuana, an effective solution requires the legalization of all drugs even the hard ones; nothing less will stop the drug violence of these criminal gangs.

On the issue of legalizing drugs, I am not advocating their recreational use, which is immoral.  The reason fundamentally that drugs have been made illegal was an effort to protect people that we love from the dangers of drugs.  That effort has failed as drugs are readily available to anyone that wants them; further, the criminality has increased the negative impact of drugs beyond what it otherwise would be.

Related to American interests, this is a problem exacerbated by choices made by our legislators acting upon our behalf, thus the electorate is to blame.  We have made mistakes.  I have identified them.  We can choose to correct them, or suffer the wrath of Nemesis when Reality imposes the consequences for our errors, as continues to occur.

Article:  William Booth, “Mexican president calls for nation’s help to curb defiant, violent criminals,” The Washington Post, 8/8/2010.

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  1. you say that they are available to everyone, why then do you think legalizing them for recreational use is immoral. They are already being used by people who need them

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    • Jim

      August 9, 2010 at 12:04 am


      To clarify, I do not think that legalizing drugs is immoral. In fact, I judge that their criminalization is an immoral abuse of government force for an illegitimate end.

      However, an individual taking drugs for recreation is acting immorally against himself.

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  2. do you make a distinction between medical and recreational use?

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  3. Great write up. I’ve seen de Soto interviewed, and he made some excellent points. Hopefully more people in Central and South America grab hold of his ideas.

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