Having rested up from my abortive February trip to Mexico, where I was unable to get my pick-up truck past the frontier zone and into Mexico proper for obscure bureaucratic reasons, I am now about to return to Mexico for a couple of weeks of on-the-scene drug war reporting. I'll be in South Dakota Thursday morning and Mexico City in time for dinner Thursday evening. I will spend a week in Mexico City. Among other things, I will be meeting with a member of Congress who has introduced a marijuana decriminalization bill, along with a select group of Mexico City marijuana activists involved in the campaign. I think I will also be spending some time with folks working with hard drug users and drug-using street youth in the city, and I will be interviewing as many academic and other experts as I can about Mexico's vicious drug prohibition-related violence (the death toll this year must be at 900 by now), the Mexican government's resort to the military to try to suppress the drug trade, and the looming multi-billion US drug war aid package. After that, it gets a bit hazy. I have been making efforts to get out into the countryside in some of the conflictive zones, in particular, the mountains of Guerrero (between Mexico City and Acapulco) and the state of Sinaloa, a traditional drug trafficking hotbed, and home of one of the violently competitive so-called drug cartels. But in both places, I've been receiving strong signals that people don't want to talk; that they are scared. I don't know at this point how this will play out, but I strongly suspect I will be heading to Sinaloa at the end of the month, where on April 29 and 30 a local newsweekly is holding a conference on "Drug trafficking, the Merida Initiative and the experiences on depenalization," which will feature a number of high-powered speakers, including a former Mexican attorney general and the Drug Policy Alliance's Ethan Nadelmann. This should be interesting. Look for some blog posts starting this weekend and some feature articles in the Chronicle for the next couple of weeks (and perhaps beyond). I'm taking the DRCNet camera, too, so maybe I'll get some good pics. If I do, you'll see 'em here. Speaking of photos, check out the one accompanying this Associated Press story from Tuesday. That's right: It's a "help wanted" banner for the Zetas, the former military elite anti-drug unit members who switched sides, calling on current and former soldiers to call them if they're looking for more remunerative work. That's the country I'm headed to! Hasta la vista, baby.
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