Saturday, June 25, 2011

A War of Failure

The global war on drugs has officially been declared a failure by the Global Commission on Drug Policy, and the numbers speak for themselves. From 1998 to 2008, the global consumption of opiates increased by 35%, cocaine by 27% and cannabis by 8.5%. This increased usage of illicit drugs, and the fierce battle to combat drug trafficking, has resulted in a upsurge of violence in many countries that serve as a conduit to the transportation of drugs from South to North America. Mexico, as it shares a border with the U.S, is a country which best exemplifies this sad reality. It has been reported that more than 34,600 have died since Mexican President Felipe Calderón declared war on drug traffickers four and a half years ago. Puerto Rico, being a U.S territory, has also served as a gateway for drug traffickers who seek the lucrative North American market. Nearly half of the island's homicides are drug-related, according to local law enforcement officials.

Drug trafficking was one of the central themes which Gov. Fortuño brought to the attention of President Obama during the latter's recent visit to the island. Gov. Fortuño emphasized the importance in the cooperation between local and federal authorities in the "war on drugs," which many have long considered as a complete failure. One of these critics includes former U.S President Jimmy Carter, who recently wrote an Op-ed piece in the New York Times. He extolled the Commission's recommendations, one of which urges "to substitute treatment for imprisonment for people who do no harm to others." Moreover, he has called for decriminalizing the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana. Politically, it is highly inconceivable that this would happen in Puerto Rico and on the mainland U.S, as a whole. Then again, when we've already begun to focus more resources on fighting drug traffickers, and at the same time laying off schoolteachers, it's time to forge a new way of thinking.

(Note: The image above was obtained from

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Casey & Ana

"Justicia para Lorenzo," read the back of the t-shirt of a runner who was ahead of me at a recent 10K running event. His statement was a stark reminder that it has been over a year since the death of Lorenzo González, the 8-year-old boy who was mysteriously killed in his home. To date, no arrests have been made. While the mainland U.S has been riveted by the Casey Anthony case, in which she is accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter, Lorenzo's murder has yet to receive much media attention from the mainland at all. Ana Cacho, Lorenzo's mother, has been named the prime suspect by one of the leading prosecutors, who fell short of officially charging her with murder. Cacho has been found lying to law enforcement authorities, she claimed not to have used drugs and engage in sexual intercourse on the night of the murder. This was later found to be untrue. She also allegedly told her two daughters not to cooperate with the police.

The Lorenzo case is replete with unimaginable twists and turns that goes far beyond the typical mystery novel. To commemorate the first anniversary of Lorenzo's death, Ana Cacho wrote a publicly released letter (addressed to her dead son) stating: "...there is no doubt that you gave up your life for us (Cacho and daughters) and I promise that your death will not be in vain." Similar to Casey Anthony, nobody on the island doubts that Ana Cacho was somehow involved with the murder of her child. However, unlike the Anthony case, it is highly unlikely that Ana Cacho will find herself in a courtroom to defend herself for killing her own son. Aside from Puerto Rico's feckless judicial and law enforcement systems, justice can sometimes turn a blind eye to those who can afford to hire a former Secretary of Justice as an "advisor." Since the beginning, Cacho has maintained her innocence and said that the "truth will come out." Thus far, the only truth is that there has been no justice done in the case of Lorenzo.

Photo Credits: Casey Anthony (top)/Orlando Sentinel, Ana Cacho (bottom)/El Nuevo Día