I know that many of us eastsiders have an embedded belief that using marijuana connects us to our ancient sacred roots, much like the spiritual use of cannabis to the Rastafari. A sprig in rubbing alcohol or as a tea, has been a part of our grandmothers’ homeopathic medicine cabinet for many generations. As an artist, I have questioned the culturally profound and the political correct. [Note: Above image is a self-portrait connecting me to MarÃa Sabina and Bob Marley through marijuana.]
I feel that my obligation as a human and artist is to speak out on matters that I find unjust, using whatever power I have. Being a Chicana artist, I have used my body of work as a platform for creating exhibits and art that have a social message. I have worked with many other artists around the world to keep the sadistic murdering of young women in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico current and on our minds through various artistic campaigns. One of the reasons we have come together as a community in LA to demand righteousness for the people of Juarez is because of our history of resistance to injustice. That’s just the way we have been, since California became part of the United States. It was not by chance that in 2001 Raul Baltazar, Rigo Maldonado, Azul Luna, Erika Elizondo and I were invited by the victim mothers of Juarez to strategize on finding a resolution to these crimes—we were a small group of representatives of the greater Los Angeles consciousness.
Due to the urging of the activists in Los Angeles, in 2006, then Congresswoman Hilda L. Solis of California introduced a resolution into congress condemning the brutal murders in Ciudad Juarez and urging the United States and Mexico to discuss resolution steps as part of their bilateral agenda. The resolution was passed. This resolution and consequent bilateral dialogue is part of what has set off the drug cartel and Mexican government wars taking place along the US/Mexico border.
Currently lawlessness is the way of life in Ciudad Juarez. Gangs of thieves have taken over the city, robbing citizens and extorting small businesses for protection fees. At a birthday party just last night, a friend told me that his 50 year old cousin was recently kidnapped from her torta stand in Juarez, robbed, brutalized and left to die in the Chihuahua desert, by 3 young men. A Juarez muralist I know says everyone is like a prisoner, only able to come out during daylight. If someone commits a crime against you, there is no one to call for help.
So you ask what does marijuana use have to do with the murders in Ciudad Juarez?
Please know that unless you are growing your own for personal use or have a medical prescription for marijuana—-you are funding the cartels that are terrorizing and murdering innocent people in Mexico. It doesn’t matter, if you think you are buying it from someone up north or back east or across the ocean—it is all one and the same. Americans are their biggest customers.
I write to you to urge you to think how you are contributing to the misery of others through your support of illegal drugs. When I have mentioned this to friends on the eastside, they feel that what I say cannot be true—that the cartels only push heroin or cocaine. I am sorry to inform you, but marijuana is also a part of this chain of illicit commerce. All of us in Los Angeles are so conscientious of our human rights, workers’ rights, of the ecology, of our communities, our bodies and our politics —let us also be conscientious of our actions and how they affect others in the world. I ask you to re-examine your dealings and reclaim your resistance to all that is unjust in the world.
If you would like to keep up to date on what is happening in Ciudad Juarez, read award winning writer, El Paso reporter Diana Washington Valdez’ blog