The Rapidian

Radical Journalist John Ross Speaks in Grand Rapids

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Radical journalist, poet, and activist John Ross spoke at Trinity Church on Lake Drive on Wednesday night. Mr Ross was born in the U.S. but has lived in Mexico City since 1985. He has written extensively about immigration reform, both the Mexican and American Wars on Drugs, and the Zapatista Uprising in the wake of the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

On Wednesday evening, Ross spoke primarily about the need in America for real immigration reform as opposed to what has been proposed by Senators Charles Schumer and Lindsay Graham. Ross discussed the need to repeat the marches for immigrant rights seen all over the United States on May 1, 2006, which he said were among the largest since the Vietnam War. Ross said that 10,000 people marched here in Grand Rapids on that day “and we should have 20,000 people this year.”

Ross said he believes that many of the stereotypes about immigrants are simply Mexico bashing and “ways to blame American problems on dark-skinned people.”

Having lived in Mexico for 25 years, Ross said he has experienced at least five or six drug wars. “Each president has their own pet wars."

Mr. Ross said that “Mexico fights drug wars for concessions from Washington,” citing a series of deals between George H.W. Bush and Mexican President Carlos Salinas. According to Ross, Bush demanded the capture of major Mexican drug lord Juan Garcia Abrego in exchange for support for NAFTA.

“NAFTA annexed the Mexican economy to America” Ross said of the controversial trade agreement.

Ross admitted that much of the violence throughout Mexico today comes over turf wars from rival drug gangs and compared many dangerous areas to the depiction of Baltimore in the popular HBO show The Wire, in which rival gangs are constantly at war and police and government are too corrupt to stop it.

He attributed the growing number of people in the drug business to the current state of the Mexican economy.

“There are currently 10 million farmers out of work” he said. “More than 500,000 have entered the drug business.”

Mr. Ross believes that to combat their current drug problems, Mexico must consider the full legalization of drugs as he said many other Latin American countries are doing.

“Its not ideal, but it's the only solution.”

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