Drug Cartels And Propaganda

PropagandaNaziJapaneseMonster.JPGWhat if major crime groups started to post banners, drop leaflets, use noise campaigns (cars with speakers broadcasting a message), run Internet videos with gruesome scenes, and other propaganda techniques to question the government? What if the messages stated that a public official, a police officer, a special agent, a whole department, and so on are corrupt? If you think that it could never happen, know that it is happening in Mexico.

As the Dallas Morning News reports the drug war in Mexico is taking on conventional war tactics including propaganda.

Hanging from the church fence in Monterrey was a banner more than a dozen feet high addressed to President Felipe Calderón, accusing the government of favoring some cartel groups over others – a charge the government denies – and appealing for a more balanced approach.

“We urge you to put neutral commanders in these jobs and not allow the narco police to stay,” it read in neat black block letters.

At least two dozen similar banners in 14 cities and six states appeared Monday in public places. The Monterrey church is in front of City Hall.

The article notes that these moves are tactics to counter the government’s message regarding drugs and Mexico’s war on drugs. And although the tactics are being called a disinformation campaign, it seems some of the messages may have truth in them. As the News reported in one case a cartel used propaganda to allege that an official was corrupt and possibly working for another cartel. Shortly after the banners went up, the official was arrested for corruption and protecting a cartel.

Who knows? Perhaps the tactic will catch on here in the U.S. If so, I wonder whether those who favor more information will want to protect the acts or not.

Image: “STOP THIS MONSTER THAT STOPS AT NOTHING. PRODUCE TO THE LIMIT. THIS IS YOUR WAR., 1941 – 1945” Creator: Office for Emergency Management. Office of War Information. Domestic Operations Branch. Bureau of Special Services. (03/09/1943 – 08/31/1945). Propaganda

Source: WikiCommons

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9 Responses

  1. Patrick S. O'Donnell says:

    An aside to your interesting post: those in this country who consume drugs controlled by these major criminal cartels share responsibility for the horrific violence that is rattling many parts of Mexico today. Or at least that’s what I think.

  2. Patrick S. O'Donnell says:

    An aside to your interesting post: those in this country who consume drugs controlled by these major criminal cartels share responsibility for the horrific violence that is rattling many parts of Mexico today. Or at least that’s what I think.

  3. I says:

    Prohibitionists bear the ultimate responsibility for the horrors of the War on Some Drugs.

  4. Patrick S. O'Donnell says:

    That would only be true if those who consumed the aforementioned drugs lacked the attributes of volitional and moral agency, which they do not (at least at various points in their lives where drug consumption is involved: I’ll concede addiction lends itself to weakness of will problems, among other things, but even then volitional agency does not disappear: witness the decision to enter treatment programs, to stop taking drugs, to seek help, etc.). Although the following often represent very different takes on the relevant psychological, therapeutic, ethical, political and legal questions involved, they all in the end countenance (well, at least some of the essays in the edited volumes) the point about agency and culpability (on the latter: not necessarily its extension, but at least its existence):

    Dalrymple, Theodore. Romancing Opiates: Pharmacological Lies and the Addiction Bureaucracy (2006).

    Elster, Jon, ed. Addiction: Entries and Exits (1999).

    Elster, Jon and Ole-Jorgen Skog, eds. Getting Hooked: Rationality and Addiction (1999).

    Martin, Mike W. From Morality to Mental Health: Virtue and Vice in a Therapeutic Culture (2006).

    If I had to select only one book from this short list, I would pick the last.

  5. Patrick S. O'Donnell says:

    That would only be true if those who consumed the aforementioned drugs lacked the attributes of volitional and moral agency, which they do not (at least at various points in their lives where drug consumption is involved: I’ll concede addiction lends itself to weakness of will problems, among other things, but even then volitional agency does not disappear: witness the decision to enter treatment programs, to stop taking drugs, to seek help, etc.). Although the following often represent very different takes on the relevant psychological, therapeutic, ethical, political and legal questions involved, they all in the end countenance (well, at least some of the essays in the edited volumes) the point about agency and culpability (on the latter: not necessarily its extension, but at least its existence):

    Dalrymple, Theodore. Romancing Opiates: Pharmacological Lies and the Addiction Bureaucracy (2006).

    Elster, Jon, ed. Addiction: Entries and Exits (1999).

    Elster, Jon and Ole-Jorgen Skog, eds. Getting Hooked: Rationality and Addiction (1999).

    Martin, Mike W. From Morality to Mental Health: Virtue and Vice in a Therapeutic Culture (2006).

    If I had to select only one book from this short list, I would pick the last.

  6. Deven says:

    Patrick,

    Some of the coverage on San Diego’s NPR has been quite good. A few folks are talking about the need to legalize and regulate as way to undercut the cash flow. I think that idea is a bit separate from your point. So do you think that policy move might help or make sense? If I understand your position, it would seem that legalizing say, marijuana, would still place responsibility on the individual to avoid addiction etc. Of course given the moves against tobacco maybe that view is losing traction in the public.

  7. Patrick S. O'Donnell says:

    Deven,

    I used to lean in favor of legalization of, say, marijuana, and possibly psychedelics (my own experience/experimentation with the latter many, many years ago was largely positive), but not so much any longer, unless, for example, they are used solely for medical/therapeutic purposes. I do think legalization would, at least in the beginning, undercut the enormous cash flow, but I envision regulation and taxation of various kinds kicking in such that prices rise and, as with cigarettes today, an illegal/black market in such drugs re-emerges as a lucrative enterprise.

    But apart from that, I’m opposed to legalization for other, more culturally grounded reasons having to do with the message that it sends to people in our society regarding the use of non-medical and or “recreational” drugs (I’m not against the traditional use of certain drugs as found in various tribal and religious traditions or for clearly established religious purposes [there’s something about the religious regulation and ritual use in these cases that cuts down on the negative side effects that such drug use might otherwise have]). I do favor a large measure of reform in our drug sentencing laws but I do not at all see drug use as a “victimless” crime. I’m not real confident about my views here, thus they’re mostly intuitive and inchoate and biased by a large measure of personal history and experience. I also think conditions here in the states are rather unique for historical and socio-cultural reasons, as is clearly the case with alcohol use and alcoholism: the tendency to turn drug use into a lifestyle, the penchant for “escapism,” etc. In short, I suspect until such time as we deal with the underlying socio-psychological reasons that account for the intemperate desire for drugs many of the problems that result from drug consumption today will remain with us.

    But by all means let’s discuss the various proposals on offer in a forthright and thorough manner that exemplifies deliberative democratic processes and procedures such that even those who choose not to participate in the discussion can learn something from it, so when the time comes to vote (aggregate preferences) on such matters our preferences won’t be ill-informed or perverse but relatively sophisticated.

  8. Patrick S. O'Donnell says:

    Deven,

    I used to lean in favor of legalization of, say, marijuana, and possibly psychedelics (my own experience/experimentation with the latter many, many years ago was largely positive), but not so much any longer, unless, for example, they are used solely for medical/therapeutic purposes. I do think legalization would, at least in the beginning, undercut the enormous cash flow, but I envision regulation and taxation of various kinds kicking in such that prices rise and, as with cigarettes today, an illegal/black market in such drugs re-emerges as a lucrative enterprise.

    But apart from that, I’m opposed to legalization for other, more culturally grounded reasons having to do with the message that it sends to people in our society regarding the use of non-medical and or “recreational” drugs (I’m not against the traditional use of certain drugs as found in various tribal and religious traditions or for clearly established religious purposes [there’s something about the religious regulation and ritual use in these cases that cuts down on the negative side effects that such drug use might otherwise have]). I do favor a large measure of reform in our drug sentencing laws but I do not at all see drug use as a “victimless” crime. I’m not real confident about my views here, thus they’re mostly intuitive and inchoate and biased by a large measure of personal history and experience. I also think conditions here in the states are rather unique for historical and socio-cultural reasons, as is clearly the case with alcohol use and alcoholism: the tendency to turn drug use into a lifestyle, the penchant for “escapism,” etc. In short, I suspect until such time as we deal with the underlying socio-psychological reasons that account for the intemperate desire for drugs many of the problems that result from drug consumption today will remain with us.

    But by all means let’s discuss the various proposals on offer in a forthright and thorough manner that exemplifies deliberative democratic processes and procedures such that even those who choose not to participate in the discussion can learn something from it, so when the time comes to vote (aggregate preferences) on such matters our preferences won’t be ill-informed or perverse but relatively sophisticated.

  9. Quidpro says:

    Our history with prohibition is instructive. Despite the many problems associated with alcohol, we found that criminalizing consumption created problems far worse.

    I share Patrick’s ambivalence concerning legalizatgion. I also recognize that drug addiction is not “victimless”. On balance, however, legalization of marijuana, at a minimum, would appear to be the best course of action.

    Making criminals of those who smoke a few joints, is absurd and breeds disrespect for the law. This easily leads to more serious criminal behavior. Incarceration is an expensive and failed remedy.

    Human beings have consumed mind altering substances from prehistory. Our present system of allowing consumption of some drugs (alcohol), but not others is arbitrary and difficult to defend.