Buy a subscription to Harper's and read the new article by Charles Bowden,
"They hardly ever do police work," writes Bowden of the policeman and his partner years ago. "[T]hey are working full-time for the narcos. This is his real home for almost twenty years, a second Mexico that does not exist officialy and that co-exists seamlessly with the government." For much of his life, the commander spent most of his waking hours transporting kidnap victims, guarding them, torturing them (often in safehouses surrounded by cop cars), killing them, and disposing of the bodies, which numbered in the hundreds.
"We are not monsters," he tells Bowden. "We have education, we have feelings. I would leave torturing someone, go home and have dinner with my family, and then return. You shut off parts of your mind. It is a kind of work, you follow orders." (Read the beginning of the article for free
at Anderson Cooper.)
Bowden wrote two books I want to track down now, Juarez: The Laboratory of Our Future,
and Down by the River: Drugs, Money, Murder, and Family. I think Hugo Chavez should have pressed both of these into the palm of Obama, along with the one he actually did give our president, Open Veins of Latin America (more here). Bowden, a reporter embedded in the front lines of the drug war along the Southwestern border for decades, knows the war intimately enough to state plainly its murderous, corrupting futility and fraudulence:
"This isn't some ugly conspiracy by corrupt American presidents," he said in 2006
. "This is what's called realpolitik. Tolerating the existence of a narco-state in Mexico is preferable to having an economic collapse in Mexico. Successive presidents have looked at the facts and made the same decision... The effort of the border patrol to stop illegal immigration is also simply for show, because if we really bottled up Mexico and a half million people a year couldn't come north, the economy would collapse."
Here and in Afghanistan
, the president needs to start hearing the voices of reason on ending drug prohibition. Bowden is one of them.