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Narco News 2001

March 27, 2001

A Narco News Global Alert

Mexico-U.S. Border Bombshell:

Chihuahua Governor Offers Solidarity to

Neighbor Gary Johnson of New Mexico

Gov. Patricio Martínez Says:

"Drug Legalization

Must Be Supported"

Narco News Analysis: One week after Mexican President Vicente Fox announced his agreement with the proposal to legalize drugs, the governor of the violence-torn border state of Chihuahua, Patricio Martínez García, tells Mexico's largest daily, El Universal, that he, too, favors drug legalization.

Martínez, who last December received a bullet wound in the neck in an attack that many have associated with narco-trafficker efforts to destabilize the government, says that the assassination attempt and his recovery from the injury have pushed him to rethink the drug laws.

Martínez, a member of the PRI party - a different party than President Fox - governs a Northern Mexican state that borders New Mexico and Texas, and that includes major areas of drug-war violence like Juárez City and Ojinaga, called for increased state and local control over the drug problem, and expressed his solidarity with the ideas of New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson. Drug legalization, says this governor from the front lines of the drug war, "must be studied seriously." He said that society cannot rely on the government alone to solve its problems. "The problem of public safety is not a problem of cops and robbers. It is a problem for all society," said the latest Latin American leader to call for radical reform of the drug laws. "There are voices that say that the government is to blame for the violence."

By Carlos Coria

From the daily El Universal, Mexico City, March 27, 2001

Translated by the Narco News Bulletin

The possibility of legalizing drugs like marijuana and of developing programs to strengthen values and that each level of government plays its respective role in the combat for public safety are the fundamental factors for diminishing violence in the country, said Patricio Martínez García, governor of Chihuahua.

In an interview granted to El Universal, still with the bad taste of the painful memory of the impact of a bullet in his head - fired by a woman formerly of the police force - and asking, constantly, "Why me?", the state governor rose to establish parameters to evade the "decomposition" of society that generates criminal and violent acts such as the attack against him.

Now a victim of this violence, but recuperated from the injury that the ex-police officer Victoria Loya Montejano inflicted upon him, the state governor recognizes that among the causes that motivated the attack was the social decay that the country finds itself in, that comes from the failure of authorities in the combat against delinquency and organized crime, as well as the public's disinterest in strengthening traditional values.

At the start of the interview, he warned about the failure of the federal government in the fight against drugs and the obsolete nature of the laws to punish this and other crimes. He also cited a society submerged in post-modernism, with diluted values that impede its consciousness of its role in the social fabric: "It leaves everything up to the government."

The most serious problem, drug trafficking, is not attacked from the perspective that it deserves, that is, establishing the goal of reducing damage and choosing to manage the cancer that throws cadavers and addicts into the streets of Chihuahua.

Still skeptical, Martínez García admits the possibility that the bullet that injured him came from drug traffickers and he asks: "Why? And why me? I have no authority over federal anti drug laws? They who made the decision to eliminate me were wrong, because it is not me who has the ability to impede their work or their business."

However, the dramatic shock that he experienced and the painful recuperation of his health have agitated and induced him to seek solutions to the problems of insecurity in the country and this brings him to flirt with visions proposed that are considered daring by some conservative sectors of the government and society.

"There have been voices like that of the governor of New Mexico in the United States, Gary Johnson, that establish that the war on drugs is lost and that ask for it to be legalized. And this voice has not been listened to, nor has his proposal been seriously considered. I believe that this proposal must be studied seriously, because if the war is going to continue being lost, with the deterioration of the life of communities and even the nation, and with the deterioration of the quality of life for the citizens of the country, well, then, "Where are we heading?"

But it would seem that the recognition that the battle against narco-trafficking is practically lost is how the regions that suffer it see it. They see the blood running through their streets and the thousands of addicts that it provokes, now that the federal government continues monopolizing the constitutional prerogatives of its war. "If the federal authorities have a monopoly over the war on drug crimes, it must comply with its obligation and act within its own sphere of influence, that is to say, the Nation."

This leads the governor to think in terms of the concept of federalism (state control) of the means of combating against drug trafficking. "Organized crime is a federal crime established by the constitution in 1917… This was good for society in 1917 but it's no good for the society of the 21st century. This system of division of powers to confront crime is a system that has already demonstrated that it doesn't work. It has not functioned and needs to be changed."

Still, his role as a statesman and the experience he has had in the business sector, as mayor of the capital, as federal congressman and now as governor of the state, have brought him to rethink the capacities of the anti-drug fight and the possibility of continuing to lose the battle while making the problem worse.

"At this moment I would not ask that this monopoly that the Constitution established in the combat against drug crimes, established exclusively for the federal government, should be eliminated or disappeared. No, the Nation should conserve it and exercise it widely. Or, if they are going to share the obligation with us and give us authority in this area, that they also give us the troops and the budget to combat it… understanding that this evil is not a state or national ill but a continental one."

Governor, are you afraid that narco-trafficking and corruption have taken hold inside the federal government?

"I believe that to say 'yes' or 'no' would be overly simplistic. I believe that the question implies the position of all citizens before this class of powers that have a lot of money and a lot of lead."

"Maybe an option to get out of this political and social degradation - and until now it has not been spoken of much in our country and other large drug markets that cause the production of drugs - is the promotion of social, religious and family values that establish firmer bases so that the population can assume its responsibility and consciousness of the decisions over what paths our respective communities will follow."

And he recognizes: "The reality is that the disintegration of society and of the family is moving rapidly. It cannot be that the society of the 21st century will bring us to the bottom of the sewer and bring the garbage with it," said the Chihuahua governor.

The gambit of the government headed by Patricio Martínez is precisely the educational promotion of family, civic and spiritual values.

"We have a growing program in Juárez City of cooperation with the authorities of El Paso, Texas, called "For a life within the law."

And he hastens to explain its reasoning: "It's a holistic and humanistic education that brings men, women and children to know their society in the best of terms of living together with others. This is a permanent work that doesn't end, but that began with this government that invested and continues investing in it." The change, he says, will come from an integral view of society in which the citizens act with full conscience of what kind of society they want to form, and the government, with the legislators, will take charge of the rest. "The problem of public safety is not a problem of cops and robbers. It is a problem for all society. There are voices that say that the government is to blame for the violence."

"There has to be a remaking of the law. The legal statutes must be updated with the same dynamism that is found in the social reality. It is necessary to constantly adjust the laws and that the legislators make law in harmony with reality, and that they create a new vision responsibly. There is a great movement within society and a very slow one in the effort to update the rules that govern the life of that society."

Immediate History for the 21st Century