Week 12: Speaking Truth to Power

What I found very interesting this week is how profit in the drug wars is so reliant on the criminalization of the drug trade. The resistance of the state actually benefits the cartels, as it makes the prices soar. As more restriction is placed on drugs, the higher the demand is, thus the cartels make more money, even as violence increases. So it makes me wonder what the solution could be? Would legalization of narcotics help reduce the violence connected to the drug wars, both on the side of the cartels and of the Mexican state and the U.S.? I definitely do think it would help to change the framework of criminalization to rehabilitation, not only in Latin America but in North America as well. That way, people facing drug addiction are more likely to seek help and the demand for narcotics can be reduced. Dawson mentions that this is something that the MUCD (Mexicans United Against Delinquency) advocates for.

When Dawson discussed the strategies people in Mexico have to avoid the violence, he mentioned that poorer residents that don’t have the option of living in a gated community turn to their friends and neighbors for protection, since relying on the state isn’t an option. This made me think of caudillos and reminded me of how that system is still relevant today.

I think that the term “interdiction” is really interesting. Dawson writes, “Interdiction efforts have what many describe as a balloon effect. When one area is pressed (as in the Caribbean in the late 1980s and early 1990s), the trade expands to another region. Today, as interdiction efforts have increased in Mexico, more and more of the trade has shifted to the even weaker states of Central America, particularly Guatemala and Honduras.”

“One kilo of cocaine sells for $1,000 in Colombia’s interior, $25,000 in the United States, and $60,000 in Britain.”

I think that this is definitely a case study for the detrimental effects of global capitalism. The drug trade will continue to be international in scope as long as the producers can benefit from the rising prices as the drugs travel farther away from their origin.

The story of the Madres de La Plaza de Mayo is both extremely sad and hopeful. Its amazing to see how a group of mothers, most of which hadn’t been present in the political sphere previously, could create such a powerful international movement. I noticed that there is a documentary about them, which I really want to see now.


Introductory Post

Hello! I am a third year student in the Latin American Studies department. I hope to be a documentary film-maker one day and I think there are many stories to be discovered from the region of Latin America. I grew up in Colorado, which had a large Mexican population which may be where my interest was sparked. My mom is Canadian so I have my dual citizenship, making UBC a great choice for me.

I watched the video “Commerce, Coercion, and America’s Empire II”. I find this topic particularly interesting, having grown up in the United States. I think they did a good job of breaking down their argument and explanation of America’s influence in the region and how it changed over time. They basically explained the situation in alignment with the Dependency Theory. Their graphics were interesting and relevant but maybe some more text would have been helpful, as they went through things pretty quickly.

I also watched the video “Towards an Uncertain Future” and thought it was executed very clearly. It was easy to follow and they had a good balance of text and visuals. I wasn’t aware of the extensive damage the earthquake had caused on Mexico’s economy before watching the video, and it gave insight into the workings of the government and political structures. It helped me understand the rationale behind the shift to more right-leaning politics when the people no longer felt they could rely on their government.

The students  in “Modernity in Latin America” did a good job of explaining what was preventing democracy from being attained in Latin American countries and how the government viewed the nation’s capacity for successful democracy. They also showed the importance of understanding that the rate of modernization was not being met with the proper changes necessary to the society, which resulted in slave labour for the coffee industry. The video had a balance between explaining what leaders did towards modernization but also the negative effects of their choices.