Author: War on drugs in US has to change
El Paso (Texas) Times
EL PASO, Texas — A respected Texas scholar and author suggested the United States should re-evaluate what he described as a war against drugs that has not yielded meaningful results after 40 years of massive expenditures.
"We are contributing directly to what is happening in Mexico," said Ricardo Ainslie, a psychologist-psychoanalyst who teaches at the University of Texas at Austin. "Our strategy has not yielded any meaningful results."
Ainslie, a native of Mexico City, spoke Tuesday at the University of Texas at El Paso as part of UTEP's Centennial Lecture Series. His lecture was partially based on his latest book, "The Fight to Save Juárez."
UTEP President Diana Natalicio described Ainslie as a prolific author, photographer and documentarian who testified in Congress in 2011 on the U.S. role in the Mexico war on drugs.
Ainslie pointed out that Juárez was "ground zero for former Mexican President Felipe Calderón's strategy against the drug cartels."
"It is here that the Mexican government came to turn the tide, and the outcome of what happens in Juárez will have lasting repercussions for both Mexico and the United States," he writes and often repeats in his lectures.
Ainslie reminded the audience the level of violence in Juárez escalated after 2007 and coincided with the Sinaloa cartel's move to take over the Juárez cartel's turf.
"Everyone in that city was directly affected by that violence," Ainslie said. "If you think about 11,000 people killed in the span of six years, that exceeds the total American casualties in 10 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan."
Ainslie suggested Mexico has made some hopeful strides such as experimenting with social programs to help educate young people and direct them away from drug cartels. But Mexico cannot solve its problems alone, he said.
"Though brittle, fragile, and still rife with problems (including corruption), Mexico is emerging as a fledgling democratic state," Ainslie writes in "The Fight to Save Juárez."
Carlos Spector, an El Paso lawyer, said during a question and answer session that the basic problem in Juárez and Mexico is not organized crime but "authorized crime." He has worked in recent years with Mexicans trying to obtain asylum in the United States.
"Organized crime is complicit with the state at every single level," he said. "In 2008, the Mexican military comes up. The very first thing they do, they murder human rights activists and not one police report."