SHAKING THE TREE
The Budget & Ecological Crisis
Edward S. Herman
GAY & LESBIAN COMMUNITY NOTES
Same-Sex Marriage And AIDS
The Road to Marriage Equality
Violence in Mexico
Beyond the Tea Party
Resisting Resource Colonialism
Housing and Health
Emerging Labor Responses
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Violence in Mexico
An interview with Noam Chomsky
Since the beginning of 2008, the violence in
Luis Cárdenas: Journalists in México live in constant danger. For example, a photojournalist from the newspaper El Diario was recently murdered in Juárez. The newspaper responded by printing an op-ed piece addressed to the cartels entitled, “What do you want from us?” Would you care to speculate on who is responsible for these attacks against the media and why?
Noam Chomsky: While I was there—this year and the year before—I met with journalists and editors from La Jornada, who I think are extremely good. They gave me off-the-record information that they had dug up about the drug cartels and about the
They still do publish some. For example, La Jornada had an article reporting the inquiries of a professor at one of the universities, a specialist on drugs who works for the United Nations drug enforcement agency, who said that about 80 percent of the businesses in México are involved in one manner or another with the drug racket. Once you start publishing things like that and looking into it, you’re getting to the power centers of Mexican society and they’re not going to want to be exposed. If they can use the drug assassins to stop it, they will.
Do you think it’s a good idea for the Mexican government to suspend certain guaranteed constitutional rights in Juárez or elsewhere in México until order is restored?
You first have to ask what the Mexican government is trying to do and that’s a little opaque. It looks to some extent as if they’re supporting one of the cartels against the other. If that’s what they are trying to do then there is no justification for them to do anything. If they want to stop the drugs, the drug rackets, I think they know how to proceed and it’s not with military action. You have to get to the heart of the matter. Part of the answer was given by the declaration of the three ex-presidents, Zedillo, Cardoso, and Gaviria. They came out with a study or declaration about two years ago in which they said that criminalizing drugs is just creating the problem and that in some fashion the drugs should be legalized, like alcohol, and regulated. Then you wouldn’t get criminal syndicates.
The drug problem is in the
Since the drug war started, there’s been a very sharp increase in incarceration rates. The
A lot of the American industrial revolution was based on slave labor from leased prisoners in the
So we have policies that are carried out which have essentially no impact on the stated goal and measures available which would have an impact and are not being used. The consequence of the policies happens to be significant for power centers—carry out counterinsurgency operations in
That’s one part of the drug war. The other part is the arms. Where are the drug cartels getting their weapons? They are being provided by the
What about NAFTA? Is that part of the problem?
That’s part of the problem. In fact, I was told by journalists that there are in México, close to the U.S. border—visible from spotter planes—big areas that used to be devoted to agriculture, which are now devoted to growing poppies. They say you can’t get in there because they’re guarded, first by the cartels, but also by the army, which is hand in hand with the cartels. These are among the predicted consequences of NAFTA and it’s pretty clear that the
Given those conditions, the insatiable
It’s pretty hard. You know the famous statement: “Too far from God and too close to the
Is it possible for the
I think these policies are harmful to the
Do you envision a day when marijuana will be legalized in the
Legalizing marijuana would make a lot of sense. I don’t think there’s a single case of marijuana overdose on record and there are tens of millions of users. It’s much less dangerous than alcohol, for example. The worst drug of all by far is tobacco. The death toll from tobacco is overwhelming.
What about cocaine and heroin? They would still be there.
The fact of the matter is, they are far less dangerous than tobacco. Everyone is in favor of regulation, but what about criminalization? It’s a topic that has to be considered carefully. In
Education may be effective in preventing addiction, but once someone is addicted, it is difficult to make them stop.
Then they need treatment, but putting them in jail doesn’t help. In fact, putting them in jail creates criminal cartels.
Do you think it’s wrong for a sovereign country like the
It’s an interesting question to ask about the
Take communities. Should a community be free to enact legislation to say we don’t want blacks? Now it’s illegal, 50 years ago it was legal. Is that progress or is that regression? That’s a subcase of the question you’re asking, a question which has complex moral dimensions. I don’t think you can give a simple answer.
I’m wondering what type of education system is best, going to school in México is not mandatory, although they say it is, it really isn’t. The
They use that slogan, but the “no child left behind” legislation should be called “every child will be left behind.” Teaching kids to pass tests is not education, that’s mis-education. It’s training for the Marines.
Take UNAM for example, it’s a very high quality university. It’s hard to get into, but it’s free. In the United States, if you take the main public education systems either you have to be rich or able to go deep into debt to go to school, unlike México where it’s free. That’s a far more progressive system than in the
It makes sense for societies to make education compulsory for children. Children are vulnerable. The decisions can’t all be left in the hands of the parents. They can be irresponsible too. There is a social responsibility to take care of vulnerable people, like the elderly. That’s a social responsibility, as is obligatory decent education and that is not happening. For example, the Boston Globe, which is a liberal newspaper, had a lead story describing the successes in education and the main success was that they doubled the number of charter schools. Is that a success? From the point of view of business interests it’s a success. They would love to privatize the school system at public expense because it’s taxpayer money. But there is no evidence that charter schools are any good. In fact, the evidence is that they are more or less like public schools even though they cherry pick their students. Why is that a success? It is a success if you accept the doctrines of private power. If you are concerned with the citizens, it’s not a success.
Luis Cardenas was born in Ciudad Juárez, México. He graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and then returned to Juárez for ten years to work as an engineer. He currently lives in the
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CUBAN 5 - From May 30 to June 5, supporters of the Cuban 5 will gather in Washington DC to raise awareness about the case and to demand a humanitarian solution that will allow the return of these men to their homeland.
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BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike- A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides, music, exhibitors, and more.
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LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in NYC.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduate Center, Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
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ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16 in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops.
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CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5-day Seminar at the University of Havana, plus visits to a co-op and educational and medical institutions.
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NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
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MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
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GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process in the U.S.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles.
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IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from across the continent to learn skills and build one big union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13, the 11th Annual Peacestock will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers, and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
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LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations, and panel discussions.
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ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference.
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