An estimated one trillion dollars has been spent globally waging a violent and bloody war in an effort to enforce the prohibition of drugs and create a ‘drug free world’.
But fighting this war has failed catastrophically to take drugs off our streets. Due to huge demand in consumer countries in Europe and North America there will inevitably be a large trade passing through Mexico.
But the problem is prohibition, not drugs themselves, and ordinary people are suffering.
One evening on March 15, 2014, Maricela's eldest son, Gerson, went out to the local corner shop. He was kidnapped.
Maricela's family paid a ransom to the kidnappers, but unfortunately, Gerson was not returned. Maricela's other son, Alan, and her daughter’s boyfriend, Miguel, immediately went to find him.
But they were followed and shot dead.
This sort of casual violence is common among criminal organisations who will go to any means necessary to protect themselves.
The drugs which are produced and trafficked through countries like Mexico are the same drugs that are consumed in Europe and North America, where huge demand has created a very profitable criminal market.
As long as it remains illegal, these resources will go straight into the pockets of criminals and enable them to become extraordinarily powerful. They govern a global industry and rule the trade with violence while terrorising communities.
The state response to this has been to fight an increasingly violent war against these criminal organisations, leading both sides to resort to ever more ugly tactics.
Maricela's son, Gerson, was just 19 years old when he was kidnapped. He was studying architecture in secondary school. He enjoyed playing football with his brother. He was popular and had many friends.
Maricela believes that throughout Mexico young people are being kidnapped by criminal gangs and forced to work as slaves producing and trafficking drugs. They are taken from their families and friends against their will, from their schools and communities, and denied the right to a peaceful life.
The consequences of prohibition in Mexico do not stop at murder, disappearance and terror.
With the authorities taking a zero tolerance approach to drug-trafficking, violence escalates and ordinary people are caught in the crossfire.
The negative effects of the drug war invariably fall hardest on the poorest and most marginalised, including indigenous people and women, who are often used as mules to traffic drugs.
Rosa Julia is a woman from a poor rural community in Guerrero, Mexico, a region plagued by poverty and full of opium poppy fields.
Rosa became a casualty of the drug war when she agreed to accompany an acquaintance through airport customs and was tricked into carrying large amounts of heroin through security. She was subsequently sent to prison, and abused by authorities that ought to have been protecting her.
The drug war is impossible to win. Clamping down on the drug trade in one region, simply causes it to move elsewhere, and the cycle of violence is repeated again and again.
If we move beyond fear, discrimination and punishment, and towards drug laws that are centred around honesty, compassion and health, we can end this cycle of violence once and for all.
Take the pledge now and join our growing movement for change. In doing so, you are making a personal commitment to spread the word about howcurrent drug laws are causing unnecessary harm across the world to families and young people.
We are planning a series of campaigning activities both in Mexico, the UK and internationally. We will be in touch to keep you informed and tell you how you can get involved!
Drug policy reform will only happen if we keep talking about it, sharing the evidence with our friends and letting policy makers know how we feel. Get involved in the conversation!
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