Videos from the non-violent war against the violent drug wars

Prostitutes and secret service and Latin America, oh my. This year’s Summit of the Americas was reduced to a scandal about secret service agents too dumb or too cheap to pay the money they owed the sex workers they solicited in Cartagena.

But the real story is that Latin American leaders are coming out of the woodwork and stating that the war on drugs is not working. These leaders are calling for reforms ranging from legalization, to decriminalization, to focusing of treatment instead of incarceration. And what’s shocking is that they are not just the lefty leaders who have come to power on Latin America’s so-called Pink Tide.

In addition to the left wing presidents in Bolivia, Argentina, and Brazil, to name a few, some of the strongest calls for reform are coming from the right:  Colombian president and former defense minister Juan Manuel Santos is wants to debate alternatives to the drug war; Mexico’s Felipe Calderon, who has launched a controversial drug war which has left nearly 50,000 dead wants the United States to consider replacing it’s draconian approach with “market alternatives.” And Guatemalan right wing former military man  President Otto Perez wants to decriminalize drugs.

For his part, Obama announced that while legalizing drugs was off the table, In the plan off the table, he acknowledged that “mass incarceration” of nonviolent drug users is an “outdated” policy and said he will focus resources on prevention and recovery, admitting that “drug addiction is a disease.”

Here are three videos which deal with the war on drugs. The first focus on the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity, an inspiring movement started by poet Javier Sicilia after his son and his friends were found killed, innocent bystanders caught in Mexico’s war on drugs. The last video is a satire of the drug war.

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Born and raised on the mean streets of New York City’s Upper West Side, Katie Halper is a comic, writer, blogger, satirist and filmmaker based in New York. Katie graduated from The Dalton School (where she teaches history) and Wesleyan University (where she learned that labels are for jars.) A director of Living Liberally and co-founder/performer in Laughing Liberally, Katie has performed at Town Hall, Symphony Space, The Culture Project, D.C. Comedy Festival, all five Netroots Nations, and The Nation Magazine Cruise, where she made Howard Dean laugh! and has appeared with Lizz Winstead, Markos Moulitsas, The Yes Men, Cynthia Nixon and Jim Hightower. Her writing and videos have appeared in The New York Times, Comedy Central, The Nation Magazine, Gawker, Nerve, Jezebel, the Huffington Post, Alternet and Katie has been featured in/on NY Magazine, LA Times, In These Times, Gawker,Jezebel, MSNBC, Air America, GritTV, the Alan Colmes Show, Sirius radio (which hung up on her once) and the National Review, which called Katie “cute and some what brainy.” Katie co-produced Tim Robbins’s film Embedded, (Venice Film Festival, Sundance Channel); Estela Bravo’s Free to Fly (Havana Film Festival, LA Latino Film Festival); was outreach director for The Take, Naomi Klein/Avi Lewis documentary about Argentine workers (Toronto & Venice Film Festivals, Film Forum); co-directed New Yorkers Remember the Spanish Civil War, a video for Museum of the City of NY exhibit, and wrote/directed viral satiric videos including Jews/ Women/ Gays for McCain.

Katie is a writer, comedian, filmmaker, and New Yorker.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/samll/ Sam Lindsay-Levine

    I can’t find your quotes in President Obama’s plan. Neither can I find any statement opposing mass incarceration of drug users. I do find a full-throated endorsement of workplace drug testing (p. 6) and the statement in the conclusion “legalization of drugs will not be considered in this approach” (p. 51). I don’t see anything in there to think that President Obama wants any kind of serious alteration in course in the ongoing War on Drugs, or that he acknowledges that it is not working. Do you, and if so, what?

    It seems to me like the Obama administration has put out a lot of feel-good press releases about how treatment is the answer, but continued all the policies, incarceration, prioritization of punishment, and armed raids of every previous president administration dating back to Nixon. As far as I can tell, all the evidence of actions, not words, shows that any serious alternative to the status quo “will not be considered”.