Grandmas of Weed in Swaziland
The New York Times had an article yesterday about impoverished grandmothers in Swaziland who are growing Swazi Gold to support themselves and the orphaned grandchildren they are raising, many of whose mothers died of Aids. They are high up in the hills near a place called Piggs Peak. They fear the police.
Maybe they ought to fear the DEA who could decide to make Piggs Peak the next stop on their excellent African Adventures tour.
If you don't think the DEA is in Swaziland, you'd be wrong. The DEA has an office in South Africa, where is where the Times says the grandmothers' pot ends up, which covers:
Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Central African Republic, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Lesotho, Mada-gascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe
The Times includes this odd sentence about one of the grandmothers:
She does not think of herself as part of a vast global chain of drug cultivation that includes poppy farmers in Afghanistan or coca growers in Latin America.
That implies to me someone else does think of the grandmothers as part of a vast global chain.
Will the grandmothers be the next Africans to be busted, flown to the U.S. and made to stand trial? Will the grandchildren get to come too? I bet children like Grandma Khathazile's 11 orphaned grandkids get left behind with no one.
What does the DEA have to say about Africa lately?
Just one month ago, Jeffrey P. Breeden, the chief of the D.E.A.’s Europe, Asia and Africa section said:
We see Africa as the new frontier in terms of counterterrorism and counternarcotics issues,” said Jeffrey P. Breeden, the chief of the D.E.A.’s Europe, Asia and Africa section. “It’s a place that we need to get ahead of — we’re already behind the curve in some ways, and we need to catch up.”
William R. Brownfield, the assistant secretary of state for international narcotics and law enforcement,
We have to be doing operational stuff right now because things are actually happening right now,” Mr. Brownfield said.
What about the fact that Swaziland is a transit, not a destination country? That doesn't seem to matter to the DEA:
“There is no such thing as a country that is simply a transit country, for the very simple reason that the drug trafficking organization first pays its network in product, not in cash, and is constantly looking to build a greater market,” Mr. Brownfield said. “Regardless of the name of the country, eventually the transit country becomes a major consumer nation, and at that point they have a more serious problem.”
The DEA wants to replicate its efforts in the Caribbean, Ghana and Liberia.
“West Africa is now facing a situation analogous to the Caribbean in the 1980s, where small, developing, vulnerable countries along major drug-trafficking routes toward rich consumers are vastly under-resourced to deal with the wave of dirty money coming their way,” he said.
I hope the $50 million a year in counter-narcotics aid we have been giving to African countries the past two years don't result in 70 year old Grandmas like Khathazile being hauled to in chains to the Southern District of New York because the pot they are growing is transited to South Africa and then ends up in Europe. But I also won't be surprised to pick up the Times one day and read they've arrived here.
Congress needs to kill the funding for the DEA's most excellent African Adventures. We have better things to do with our dollars than butt in when the drug growers and traffickers aren't sending their Swazi Gold and other wares to the U.S.
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