Momentarily interrupting the constant flow of Muslimgauze-based posts to inform you about a great book I recently finished, Murder City: Ciudad Juarez and the Global Economy’s New Killing Fields by Charles Bowden. I first learned of Bowden from his essay Torch Song: At the Peripheries of Violence and Desire in the 1999 edition of Best American Essays (a reprint of his work that first appeared in the August, 1998 edition of Harpers). Topically, Torch Song is not easy to read as it is about Bowden’s tenure as a crime reporter and documents male violence against women and children as well as the post-trauma effects on them. You can download and read the article by clicking on this link.
Murder City is a continuation of the also excellent Down by the River: Drugs, Murder, Money and Family wherein he documents the failing “War on Drugs”, American foreign and national policies that facilitate an industry which by a conservative estimate nets the Mexican economy at least 60 billion a year. Here is an interview with Bowden that offers some mind-blowing factoids on how out-of-control the illicit drug industry is and current policies only empower it. According to these books, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in the late 80′s helped create a crisis in Mexico that has now reached anarchic proportions. With the migration of manufacturing jobs from North America to Mexico with the implementation of NAFTA, wages for Mexicans have dropped to unsustainable levels such that income through the drug trade becomes the only sustainable solution for Mexicans. No legitimate revenue source even comes close. To combat this, the American Government gives half a billion a year to the Mexican government to go after the cartels. Half a billion compared to a 60 billion (very conservative estimate) makes American efforts moot. What the “War on Drugs” did do was give the Mexican army enough weapons to take control of drug revenue for themselves. 60 to 70% of the Mexican economy relies on the illicit drug trade, to stop it would destroy the country. The highest levels of the American government are aware of this, and see it as a necessary evil as they are in no position to support Mexico in case of a collapse. Since then-president Nixon’s declaration of “War on Drugs” in the 70′s, drugs are now cheaper, of higher quality, and more accessible than ever before. Who is winning this war? Among the biggest money launderers from illicit drug money are the likes of Citibank. The core focus of Murder City is the Mexican border town of Juarez, once a prosperous (for Mexico) border town that was touted as the ideal of NAFTA and now gutted by 3000 murders a year, smuggling, and illicit drug trade. The book is very dark and facts are not easy to digest, and shows why NAFTA must be renegotiated to pay a living wage for all and how our drug policies must be rethought. Please buy these books, or at the very least Murder City. I used to own a Blackberry and found out it was made in Mexico. Cel phone shops in Toronto give it away for free when you sign a 2 to 3 year term. How much damage would it cause to give it away for 20, 10, or even 5 dollars with proceeds used to pay the the workers fair wages?