<i>"The Name of Our Country is América" - Simon Bolivar</i> The Narco News Bulletin<br><small>Reporting on the War on Drugs and Democracy from Latin America
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Al Giordano

Opening Statement, April 18, 2000
¡Bienvenidos en Español!
Bem Vindos em Português!

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“A Path to Dialogue”

Mexican Congressman Launches Pan-American Battle vs. “the repressive policies of the U.S.”

By Adam Saytanides
Narco News Authentic Journalism Scholar

February 13, 2003

MÈRIDA, YUCATÀN, THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 2003: Mexican Congressman Gregorio Urias Germann delivered a stinging indictment of the Mexican and US governments in his keynote speech at the drug legalization summit here today.

Mexican congressman Gregorio Urías speaks in Mérida
Photo D.R. Jeremy Bigwood 2003

Systematic corruption in the highest offices of government is what makes global narco-trafficking possible he said. Urias insisted that this endemic corruption is what stifles congressional debate throughout the Americas.

“If we can’t even discuss an alternative, if we can’t even admit that the drug war is a failure,” Urias proclaimed, “than we’ll never solve the problem.”

Urias, a federal representative from the state of Sinaloa, and assistant whip of the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD)has introduced a bill in the Mexican Congress to establish a permanent Commission on Narco-trafficking and Organized Crime. The commission would evaluate the failure of current drug policies to combat the widespread addiction and rampant violence that persists throughout Mexico and the Americas.

Currently, “there is no space to reasonably talk about the pros and cons of decriminalization,” Urias said.

“Our interests are the interests of the majority of society, not drug-users,” he explained. “The health of our entire society depends upon the resolution of this problem.”

Urias has witnessed firsthand the destruction wrought by narcotraffickers in his home state of Sinaloa. He lives 100 kilometers from the border area between Sinaloa, Chihuahua, and Sonora, an area so notorious for drug-running that it has been dubbed the “Golden Triangle.”

The locale is a hotbed of opium cultivation and heroin processing, and a key transport route for marijuana and cocaine shipments. Urias explained that it’s been this way since the late 1800s, when Chinese immigrants planted heroin in the highlands. After World War II, he alleges, due to a secret agreement between the US and Mexican government to boost revenue from illicit crops in Sinaloa, production skyrocketed.

“The Mexican government has always been in control of this business,” Urias claimed, adding that the police and federal army tried to reign in the illegal poppy and marijuana cultivation, but was restrained by the executive branch of the Mexican government. Highly placed government officials, he said, “were defending the hidden interests of the most powerful” elements of society.

“If you look at all the main cartels operating in Mexico and worldwide, they originated in Sinaloa,” Urias asserted to back up his accusations. Because of the Sinaloan syndicates’ extensive smuggling experience, they were the first to go global, converting their businesses to move hundreds of tons of contraband to the United States and Europe.

Because the cartels operate around the world in collusion with elements of the US and Mexican government, Urias said that even if a single Latin American nation could eradicate narcotrafficking, it would not hurt these mafia groups. They would just move their operations somewhere else, he reasoned.

Only an international strategy will be successful in ending the drug war, Urias believes. But he does not trust the United Nations or the Organization of American States to lead the way.

“Only the repressive policies of the United States are discussed in these forums,” he complained.

In order to push the established international organizations towards a more enlivened debate, Urias joined the Parliament of Latin America, a body of congressional representatives from throughout Central and South America. He has proposed that the Parliament of Latin America begin a comprehensive study of drug legalization, and whether it would be a more effective way to undercut the profitability of the narco-cartels.

Even in the less conservative international Parliament, it took two years of convincing before they would even discuss his proposal seriously Urias said. And he is not confident that member nations will conclude that legalization is the best road to take in the end. But that’s not the most important thing, he insisted.

“The issue is not ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to legalization, the issue is the path of dialogue,” Urias concluded. “We are trying to find what is most acceptable to everyone; if we can get the debate to happen, we have won.”

Full Disclosure: The author wishes to acknowledge the material assistance, encouragement, and guidance, of The Narco News Bulletin, The Narco News School of Authentic Journalism, publisher Al Giordano and the rest of the faculty, and of the Tides Foundation. Narco News is a co-sponsor and funder of the international drug legalization summit, “OUT FROM THE SHADOWS: Ending Prohibition in the 21st Century,” in Mérida, Yucatán, and is wholly responsible for the School of Authentic Journalism whose philosophy and methodology were employed in the creation of this report. The writing, the opinions expressed, and the conclusions reached, if any, are solely those of the author.

Apertura total: El autor desea reconocer la asistencia material, el ánimo y la guía de The Narco News Bulletin, La Escuela de Narco News de Periodismo Auténtico, su Director General Al Giordano y el resto del profesorado, y de la Fundación Tides. Narco News es copatrocinador y financiador del encuentro internacional sobre legalización de las drogas “Saliendo de las sombras: terminando con la prohibición a las drogas en el siglo XXI” en Mérida, Yucatán, y es completamente responsable por la Escuela de Periodismo Auténtico, cuya filosofía y metodología fueron empleadas en la elaboración de esta nota. La escritura, las opiniones expresadas y las conclusiones alcanzadas, si las hay, son de exclusiva responsabilidad del autor

Abertura Total: O autor deseja reconhecer o material de apoio, o propósito e o guia do Boletim Narco News. a Escola de Jornalismo Autêntico, o editor Al Giordano, o restante de professores e a Fundaçáo Tides. Narco News é co-patrocinador e financiador do encontro sobre a legalizaçao das drogas Saindo das Sombras: terminando com a proibiçao das drogas no século XXI em Mérida, Yucatan, e é completamente responsável pela Escola de Jornalismo Autêntico, cuja filosofia e metodologia foram implantadas na elaboraçao desta reportagem. O texto, as opinioes expressadas e as conclusoes alcançadas, se houver, sao de responsabilidade do autor.

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The Narco News Bulletin: Reporting on the Drug War and Democracy from Latin America