08/19/12 Javier Sicilia

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Caravan for Peace I, featuring Javier Sicilia the Mexican poet who lost his son to the drug war, Jack Cole of LEAP, Judge James Gray, Daniel Robello of DPA

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Transcript

Transcript

Cultural Baggage / August 19, 2012

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[music]

DEAN BECKER: The Caravan for Peace, justice and dignity began its more than 6,000 mile journey across America from San Diego, California with hands reaching through the border fence to touch those seeking our help in Tijuana with singing and hope and prays for an end to the madness of drug war.

This is Cultural Baggage and I am Dean Becker inviting you to find a way to participate in this Caravan for Peace and Justice.

Please be advised that much of this program was recorded under adverse conditions and through interpreters. We will speak first with the Mexican poet, Javier Sicilia, who lost his son to cartel violence and who led two previous caravans in Mexico.

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DEAN BECKER: I’m here with Senor Javier Sicilia. This is the first date of the Caravan for Peace in the United States.

Tell us, if you will Senor, what you have experienced. What has been the result of the two caravans in Mexico and what do you hope to accomplish in the United States with this caravan.

JAVIER SICILIA: [via interpreter] We were able to get visibility to the victims of the war. We were able to give visibility to the horror of this war and the national emergency.

We also hope to give visibility to the war in the U.S. and show there is responsibility for the victims.

DEAN BECKER: The American people are beginning to realize the horrors but the forces of prohibition continue to hold power. What will we do on this caravan to awaken the people to that need for change?

JAVIER SICILIA: [via interpreter] We hope to bring the media circle around these issues and we hope to create consciousness with media because they tend to give a lot of self-references instead of looking outside.

DEAN BECKER: Senor Sicilia and I are working on a lengthy interview I hope to bring to you very soon but you do have to realize this Caravan for Peace has been brutal on the participants. We endure temperatures of 111 degrees in Phoenix and marches all day long. Time for food becomes secondary and sleep – something that happens once in a while but not for very long.

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DEAN BECKER: Alright, it is the first day of the Caravan for Peace here in these United States. I’m standing a couple hundred yards from the Pacific Ocean here with a gathering of a couple hundred people in support of this need for change and who should surprise me and show up but none other than the Libertarian Vice Presidential candidate, Judge Jim Gray.

How are you doing, Judge?

JAMES GRAY: Well, I’m great but this just brings to a clear emphasis what is going on wrong in this world and it’s caused by our drug policy and it’s caused by our money. It’s shameful and it’s horrible and it’s got to stop.

DEAN BECKER: Judge, we’re here with this display of pictures of the dead, family of many of the people who are here in attendance. It’s our fault that this drug war is killing so many Mexicans isn’t it?

JAMES GRAY: Well, it absolutely is. It just brings tears to your eyes. I’m looking at a sign right now, “Osta kala les pecia la paz se bason”<?> That basically means that this will continue until we get a peace with getting the money out of the drug war and there won’t be any justice until that happens.

It’s just a hideous thing. LEAP is right in the forefront of this caravan and it’s in the forefront of trying to repeal this failed and hopeless policy. So I’m proud to be a LEAP speaker, of course, but let’s get it going. Let’s get it done faster.

DEAN BECKER: You and your running mate, Governor Johnson, are all over this country trying to spread your message, right?

JAMES GRAY: Yes we are. The old movie “If it was Tuesday, it must be Belgium.” I’m just coming back from 11 days on the road in 8 different states. I just flew in from Wyoming this morning but we really believe this and we honestly know that unless Governor Gary Johnson is elected president whether it’s Obama or Romney this failed and hopeless drug war will continue so we’re giving people that choice and they’re going to realize that - particularly with this caravan all across the nation.

DEAN BECKER: I intend to be on it – 25 cities in 30 days – all the way to D.C. It is my hope that the other media out there (are you listening?!) you will focus on this issue. It’s time to pull the plug on this madness. What’s your thought on that, Judge?

JAMES GRAY: Well, as long since time. I honestly came out in April of 1992 as a sitting judge against our nation’s War on Drugs and I guaranteed anyone that would listen that at least by the year 2000 we would change away from this failed policy. Now, of course, we’re in 2012 and it just shocks me that we’re continuing to exercise this thing for so long. But I think the end is in sight and hooray for that.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, we hear the news of major bank after major bank getting caught after laundering money for the cartels, the terrorists and major gangs. It’s not the issue we’ve been taught that it is, is it?

JAMES GRAY: It’s money. In fact I was actually with two sitting congressman of Orange County, California where I’m from individually and they brought it up and they said words to the literal effect of, “Jim, you don’t understand. Most people in Washington understand that the War on Drugs is not winnable but it’s imminently fundable and they’re addicted to the drug war funding.”

So it’s money for the bad guys and it’s money for the good guys and, in the meantime, the people are truly, truly suffering and untold damage is done to both Mexico and the United States and, of course, pretty much every other country – Afghanistan or otherwise. This is a failed policy. Once we repeal it that single convention treaty will be jettisoned around the world with a great sigh of relief.

But it’s up to us. It’s up to LEAP. It’s up to this caravan to draw even more attention so that we get this done. Thanks for helping us.

DEAN BECKER: Alright, we’ve been speaking with Judge Jim Gray, vice presidential candidate for the Libertarian party. Judge, please direct folks to your website where they can learn more about what you and Governor Johnson want to do.

JAMES GRAY: That’s a great thing. It’s http://garyjohnson2012.com. The most qualified person to be president of the United States that I know of and, again, way out in front of this.

While he was governor of New Mexico in 1999 he conducted his own audit. He had no political constituency to do this and took some political hits. He said, just like the rest of us are, long ago now that this war isn’t working. We must change it. We must do away with it. He is in the vanguard right now as always and a great guy.

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DEAN BECKER: Next up we hear a report from Tucson. If the sequence of these reports gets out of order you’ll have to forgive me. Because of the constant travel and the lack of sleep it even becomes difficult to remember which city you’re in.

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DEAN BECKER: Alright, we just arrived in Tucson. We’re on the Caravan for Peace with Javier Sicilia. Many great organizations and here is the now past director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition but a man that’s still on the job, Mr. Jack Cole.

How are you doing today, sir?

JACK COLE: Doing great. It’s a beautiful day – not too hot at all for Tucson, huh?!

DEAN BECKER: No. It makes you proud to be part of this doesn’t it?

JACK COLE: It is absolutely one of the proudest things I’ve ever done in my life. It feels so good to be part of it.

DEAN BECKER: Jack, you and I have devoted a huge portion of our life trying to undo complicating factors that we were once a part of. Your thoughts in that regard.

JACK COLE: Yeah, I used to be asked when I was retiring after 26 years with the state police, “What are you going to do with your next 26 years, Jack?”

And I said, “Maybe try to undo some of the harm I did in the last 26.”

DEAN BECKER: We find in most of these events that we go to there’s a few police officers – some type of security going on – we’re not really getting any objection or bluster from them these days, are we?

JACK COLE: No, actually we get nothing but respect. I was just up there to try to talk to Sheriff Joe Apario. People don’t come much meaner than nastier than him, really. But even he was kind of mean with other people but when he got to me he was very respectful.

He even said, “I don’t agree with you but I have to respect your opinion on this.”

DEAN BECKER: Jack, it’s been awhile since I’ve had you on my show. Let’s remind folks of what you did in your law enforcement career.

JACK COLE: 26 years as a New Jersey State Police officer. I retired as a Detective Lieutenant. For 14 of those years I worked undercover narcotics. I worked everything up to billion dollar international heroin and cocaine rings during that time. Nothing I did in 26 years reduced the number of drug abusers in this country or any other country by so much as 1 human being.

What we’ve done with the War on Drugs is we’ve created a self-perpetuating, constantly expanding policy disaster. We, I’m speaking of law enforcement, created this out of whole cloth.

The real instigators were the politicians who first created the War on Drugs. But then the people that implemented it caused the most problems because when the War on Drugs started in 1970 by Richard Nixon we really didn’t have much of a drug problem out there and what little drug problem we did have was soft drugs.

In 1970 he got the U.S. Congress to pass funding bills that would give massive amounts of money to any police department who would hire cops to fight his War on Drugs. In the New Jersey State Police traditionally we’d had a 7 man narcotics unit. That’s what we had in 1964 when I went in and that’s what we had in 1970. It was always perfectly adequate for the job that we had to do in narcotics. As I say – not much of a problem.

But then, thanks to these fundings from the federal government, we went, overnight, from a 7 man unit to a 76 person drug bureau. Think of what that means when you increase the number of police doing one job by 11 times its size.

In the coming year we were expected to make 11 times as many drug arrests and there just weren’t that many people out there selling drugs – they just didn’t exist. So what we did is we started arresting young people for “dipping and dabbing” in drugs and using drugs and we accused them of being drug dealers.

We would infiltrate small groups of say 10 or 15 people. I, as an undercover agent, would get in, become their friend and I think almost everybody in your audience understands that drug use, especially soft drug use, is a very social thing. 6 people get around in a circle and they spark up one joint, take two tokes and hand it to the person on the right.

Well when they handed it to me they became a big-time drug dealer because that’s what we labeled them and that’s what stuck. Those folks then were going away for 7 years in prison for handing me a marijuana cigarette.

DEAN BECKER: And I thought we were bad in Houston. Well, a little bit worse. We had one gentleman who took a puff. He happened to be smoking with a circle of police officers. He got 10 years in prison for that.

Jack, we’re traveling with this caravan – busloads of people whose families have been tragically impacted in Mexico by this drug war. I had one lady ask me the other day. She was very serious. She wanted to know how much do these drug dealers make per day in Mexico.

So I calculated. Let’s say 50 billion a year – call it 52. From that I was able to quickly extrapolate that they make 140 million dollars a day. Who wouldn’t kill to be part of the CEO of that company?! Your thought there, sir.

JACK COLE: Well I wouldn’t but I’m a special case and I now you wouldn’t since you’re a special case. But, since the world runs mainly on greed most of the people out there would.

The only way we’re going to stop this violence is by removing the profit motive and the only way to remove the profit motive is by legalized regulation of all drugs –not just marijuana – all drugs. The more dangerous the drug the more reason there is to legalized that drug because you can’t control and regulate anything that’s illegal.

Control of these illegal drugs right now is in the hands of the criminals. They tell us what drugs are going to be supplied to our community, what they’re going to be cut with, how strong they’re going to be, how much they’re going to cost, what age group they’re going to sell it to and where they’re going to sell. When they decide to sell heroin to 10-year-old kids on our playgrounds – that’s what happens.

So we say let’s take the responsibility back for what goes on out there. Let’s legalize these drugs. Let’s say they can only be sold by adults to adults only where they can be regulated and sold from, take them out of the schools and out of the prison, off the street corners and, eventually, we will cut down on drug use.

Because, you know, it’s happened in every country where we’ve done anything to reduce these terrible repressive laws. Every time we do that – drug use goes down.

I know you are familiar with what happened in Portugal but let me explain to your audience. 11 years ago on July 1st, 2001 Portugal decriminalized all drugs for adults. The drug warriors like myself told them, “You can’t do that. If you do that it will bring chaos to your country. You will become the drug tourist capital of the world. All your beautiful, sunny beaches – nobody will even be allowed to walk down because there’ll be needles sticking up from the sand.”

Well, none of that happened as you well know, Dean. What did happen is drug use in every age category went down but the largest drops were among the youngest people. So for children age 13 to 15-years-old drug use actually declined by 25% after they decriminalized drug use for adults. For young people from the age of 16 to 18 drug use declined by 22%.

Here’s our busses coming in. These wonderful people who came from Mexico - all victims of the U.S. drug war, men and women who suffered so much…they’ve had their daughters, their sons murdered…

DEAN BECKER: butchered…

JACK COLE: butchered…yes…not by drugs but by drug prohibition – by the cartels that are making 500 billion dollars a year around the world selling these illegal drugs. They’re only making that money because the drugs are illegal.

DEAN BECKER: Jack, thank you so much. It’s, to me, an honor to be a part of this. It’s an honor to be a part of LEAP and this Caravan for Peace.

Please, share our website where folks can learn more about our organization and just how they can help to change this.

JACK COLE: If they want to find us – very easy – go to http://copssaylegalizedrugs.org or the shorter version is http://leap.cc LEAP stands for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

Go to our website and, please, join us. In ten years we went from 5 founding members (all of us cops) to over 80,000 members – police, judges, prosecutors, prison wardens and supporters in 118 countries. Anybody can join. You don’t have to be in law enforcement anymore. We want to get millions of people who are members of LEAP who are finally saying, “We’ve got to end the violence. We’ve got to stop …”

There were at least 50,000 – most people say 60,000 – people killed from drug prohibition in Mexico during the last 5 years. There’s another 20,000 that are missing – presumed dead. That’s more people than are dying each year in the war in Iraq.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, or more than died in Vietnam.

JACK COLE: It’s an unbelievable figure and we’ve got to stop it and we can stop it. In those other wars it’s very hard to stop it but this on all we have to do is end drug prohibition. Legalize the drugs and the violence is over.

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DEAN BECKER: Lot a folks from the Caravan for Peace and Jack Cole from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition are upstairs talking to Sheriff Joe Arpaio. I’m sitting out here on a bench sweating my ass off with Mr. Daniel Robello of the Drug Policy Alliance. We’re on this Caravan for Peace hoping to awaken American people aren’t we, Dan?

DAN ROBELLO: We sure are, Dean. Thanks for having me.

DEAN BECKER: What’s your take? I mean, we’re just getting started. What’s happening?

DAN ROBELLO: This is a historic effort - really a bi-national mobilization of civil society organizations who have just had enough with this failed War on Drugs. It’s been months in the making. Over one hundred organizations, 150 when you count both sides of the border, it began on Sunday in San Diego (Sunday, August 12th) and we’re going to be continuing all the way for the full month to D.C. to, like you said, to awaken the American public and to demand alternatives.

It really has taken on a life of its own at this point.

DEAN BECKER: Earlier today we all gathered out at “tent city” – Joe Arpaio’s answer to the drug war, to immigration. What was your thought about that gathering?

DAN ROBELLO: Well you see the intersection of the drug war and the criminalization of not only people that use drugs but also people who happen to be immigrants. You see many, many (perhaps most) of those incarcerated in this “tent city” jail…which I should say is we’re sitting out here in the 100 degree heat – imagine being incarcerated in a tent stuck out in the heat all day. It’s not only degrading it’s dangerous conditions and most of them are non-violent drug and immigration offences. We’re here to say, “Enough is enough.”

Sheriff Joe Arpaio is not only the infamous anti-immigrant but let’s be frank bigoted but he’s also a life-long drug war zealot. He cut his teeth on prohibition before there even was a DEA. He was a DEA agent and officer for years and years and, as you saw, Dean, as we saw outside of the sheriff’s office where we were protesting for an end to that jail, where we were calling for an end to the criminalization of people who use drugs and immigrants and for alternatives to the failed policy of prohibition – what he had out there was a monument to his War on Drugs. He had a statue of a tank that says, “Sheriff Arpaio’s War on Drugs.”

This sort of aggressive and arrogant continuation of a failed policy after 40 years, after 1 trillion dollars or more wasted, after millions of our fellow citizens incarcerated for nothing more than possessing a drug, it just continues that failed policy and we’re here to say we’ve had enough.

We’re embraced by local organizers here in Phoenix who welcomed the Caravan for Peace, Justice and Dignity lead by the great poet Javier Sicilia whose son was killed in senseless prohibition violence and so many other mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters were welcome with open arms by the Phoenix community as were U.S. allies like Dean and myself.

We really came out, in force, in the 100 degree heat to say enough is enough.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, yesterday was 109 folks. Think about that. Do you want to sit outside all day, all night in that kind of weather?

I got my doubts if that was a statue. That looked like a real tank. On the barrel of the tank it said, “Blasting away on drugs.”

DAN ROBELLO: It’s just lunacy and this guy, of course, has made headline news and enforcing the War on Drugs has been his whole career. He’s not really ready to let go of that fraud but we’re here. Javier Sicilia right now is meeting with him because that’s the kind of man that Javier is. That’s the kind of leader that he is. He will dialogue with anybody.

We don’t know how the meeting is going but we can only imagine that Javier’s calls, Javier’s demands, Javier’s pleas are falling on deaf ears.

DEAN BECKER: Well, as always, we appreciate the good work of these folks in the caravan. The hundred organizations that you’re talking about, the coordination is massive. This is 25 cities in, I think, it’s 31 days ending up in Washington, D.C.

If you want to learn more you can always check out the Drug Policy Alliance at http://drugpolicy.org.

What’s another site where they can learn more about the caravan, Dan?

DAN ROBELLO: If folks want to get involved, if they want to help support the caravan they can go to http://caravanforpeace.org and there they can find the whole route of the caravan. From Phoenix we’re heading to Tucson today. Then we’ll be heading to New Mexico, Texas, through the U.S. south, up to Chicago, Cleveland, New York, Baltimore and concluding in D.C. where we’ll be calling for an international day of action for peace in Mexico – solidarity with our brothers, our sisters, our neighbors in Mexico where 60,000 have been killed because of prohibition-related violence because of organized crime that have just gotten rich off this failed prohibition policy.

Join us in helping out in whatever way they can. We’ve been embraced by every community we’ve been in so far and they’re local organizations, community organizations, churches, community services putting us up – putting up over 100 activists on this caravan, giving us places to sleep, food to eat and joining us in calling for alternatives to the failed policy of prohibition and that includes different options for regulating drugs so we can put violent criminals, violent traffickers out of business.

What the caravan is really saying is too many people have died. It’s time to put all options on the table and really choose one. With marijuana it’s a much simpler question. We should legalize and regulate it and tax it like alcohol. With other drugs it might be a more difficult question but there are so many different ways of regulating substances.

We live with plenty of regulated markets every day. Nobody’s dying over these commodities. The caravan is saying enough is enough. Put all options on the table and help us so we can have peace in both our countries.

DEAN BECKER: The U.S. runs the drug war in much the same way that the cartels do. It’s “plata or plumo” – the silver or the lead – take the money or you’re dead. Because the United States gives Mexico 500 million dollars a year. We give Colombia 100 million dollars a year. We give Bolivia 10 million dollars a year if they will just participate in our drug war but if they refuse to do so we take them off the favorite nations’ list, we refuse to trade with them, we try to punish them as best we can.

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DEAN BECKER: This week rather than doing my usual “Name that drug by its side effects” I want to make a little comment – a bit of an editorial, if you will.

The fact is I like cannabis. It’s the only drug I use. While we were in Phoenix and the people were on stage telling their stories of horror, murder, madness and mayhem in Mexico a group of cannabis enthusiasts started interrupting, shouting, “Free the weed. Free the weed.”

All I can ask it that you cannabis enthusiasts think a little further, dig a little deeper and realize that the whole of the drug war is the problem. Help to end this madness and cannabis will be free.

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[music]

DEAN BECKER: Each day when I hear these stories of the families of the victims in Mexico my heart bleeds, my eyes water, my head hurts and I wonder why you…you…yes you, fellow Americans, are not doing something to end this madness.

Please find a way to participate to show our elected officials that it’s time to end this drug war.

And each day I am astounded that laughter and the dancing and the singing that these great folks from Mexico are bringing to our country as well.

Please visit http://caravanforpeace.org

This is Dean Becker for Cultural Baggage, Pacifica Radio and the Drug Truth Network.

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Transcript provided by: Jo-D Harrison of www.DrugSense.org