The war on drugs in Mexico is government corruption and is heavily impacting communities on the U.S.-Mexico border, said human rights activist Raul Reyes Salazar and attorney Carlos Spector at a lecture in CSUN’s Whitsett Room Thursday night.
Mexico’s president Felipe Calderon sent military forces in 2008 to put a stop to the drug war, according to Spector.
Spector and Reyes argue, however, that these military forces are linked to a large number of deaths consisting of activists and civilians, particularly from the city of Guadalupe and the state of Chihuahua.
“Mexico’s president first sent out troops to stop the drug war. But this is not a drug war,” Spector said. “If you pay attention to the arrests and deaths that have happened you notice that they will say that the person arrested or killed was ‘related to drugs’. However, they use the word ‘related’ very loosely. By ‘relate’ they may mean the person had a relative who had something to do with drugs when the person themselves might not have been involved with drugs at all.”
Spector, who has been an attorney for many political asylum cases, explained that the Mexican government deprives their citizens the right of speech. There have been numerous murders of social and human rights activists, reporters and citizens who were reported to have spoken against the government, Spector said.
Spector also explained that he has seen an increase of political asylum cases from 800 to 8000 in the span of about six years.
One of these cases is Saul Reyes and his family of human rights activists. Six members of his family have been murdered by what he believes are corrupted government forces. One of these members was Reyes’ nephew who was murdered 300 feet away from a military vehicle, the authorities, according to Reyes, did not interfere.
Reyes’ nephew’s death followed protests led by the boy’s mother and Reyes’ brothers. Almost every member of Reyes’ family who protested has been murdered.
Reyes is the last remaining son of his mother.
“This is the dark side you won’t see in the news.” Reyes said. “This is not something from a movie, Mexicans are living this.”
Many members of the audience had questions for Spector and Reyes, including political science major Olga Jimenez, who asked Spector whether the upcoming Mexican presidential elections will better the situation.
Both Spector and Reyes responded that they believe a new president will not bring change.
Digital art major, Kate Parsons expressed her shock after the lecture and said “this problem is so huge; I can’t believe six members of his family died because of this. I’ve never heard about this before, it’s insane.”
Spector, Reyes and chair of the Journalism Department Jose Luis Benavides, both assured the audience that their mission was to inform the public as to what’s going on.
“We can’t change this right away,” Spector said. “What we’re doing is setting as much sparks as we can and the rest will follow.”