By Hassan Omar Hassan
If I were a superstitious character, I would have ‘consulted’ fortunetellers. I would have sought an interpretation. While on a visit to Mexico this week, a Mexican of Lebanese descent Carlos Slim Helu, the telecommunication mogul was named by Forbes magazine as the richest man in the world for the third year running with an estimated net worth of US$ 69 billion.
Another remote commonality is that my mother too is of Arab descent, Omani. I would have sought an interpretation as to whether this was a mere coincidence or whether the ‘goddess’ of fortune is in a subtle but firm communication of my destiny.
That as much as President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga were carrying flags, digging holes and laying foundation stones for their Vision 2030, I will actually be around then, having invested in this ‘vision’ and listed in the Forbes magazine ahead of Bill Doors and Warren Ala-carte. Though, I will not focus on this fairytale. I will focus on the hard reality: Vision Now!
Mexico has some commonalities with Kenya. Both nations are facing a drugs menace with glaring similarities. I will present the Mexican situation to illustrate how out of hand things can get.
Mexican drug trafficking cartels used the entrenched political system to create a network of corruption to include politicians, the police and the Judiciary. The network guarantees distribution rights, market access and government protection.
The Mexican cartels rose to prominence in the late 1980s following the dismantling of the Colombian drug cartels by the US. The Mexican cartels, which were hitherto ‘couriers’ for the Colombians, hence moved to wholesalers. The Mexican cartels do ‘business’ amounting to US$30 billion annually, and employ about 500,000 people. The cartels are no doubt powerful.
President Felipe Calderon launched a massive crackdown of drug trafficking organisations in 2006. His one six-year term limit as provided by the Mexican Constitution expires in December. Since the crackdown began, 50,000 people have been killed – 15,000 in the last year alone. It makes Kenya’s post-2007 election violence appear like a Christmas party. Owing to a corrupt police, President Calderon has deployed thousands of military personnel towards combating the cartels.
About 50,000 troops and federal police are actively engaged in the ‘war’. More than 3,000 of them have been killed since 2006. Moreover a shift of violence since 2010 has witnessed the killing of 19 sitting mayors and many other politicians have since been killed or disappeared. Massacre of civilians, beheadings and mass graves are brutalities employed by the cartels. The government too has been accused of excesses by human rights organisations to include torture, disappearances and extrajudicial killings.
Only through affirming the rule of law anchored on strong, corrupt-free governance and law enforcement institutions and in particular, the police and the judiciary can we combat and eliminate drug trafficking. We must equally as a people endeavour to reduce the demand of drug users through decriminalisation of usage and rehabilitation. Our own statistics of usage is scary.
We might not be where Mexico is, but if unchecked we can get there. As the President and Prime Minister lay the foundation for Vision 2030, they must uproot the foundations of drug traffickers. While they laid the foundation stone of the Lamu Port last week, many a youth sat in the alleys of Lamu, forgotten, drooling with addiction and hopelessness in apparent ecstasy and possible make belief of their ownership of the Port! In Coast we call it mastimu!
The writer is a lawyer and former commissioner with the KNCHR
Source: The Standard
- Un Recognizes Success in Mexican Drug War Despite Remaining Challenges (northernbarbarians.wordpress.com)
- 3 Photojournalists Murdered in Mexico (newser.com)
- The Future of Mexico’s Drug Strategy (newamericamedia.org)