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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  • Display: Sort:
    The Grandmas.... (5.00 / 4) (#1)
    by kdog on Wed Aug 15, 2012 at 09:52:03 AM EST
    are inspiring...anything for the kids.  This one's for the growing grandmas of Swaziland...Grandma's Hands

    Here are women, poorer than poor with burdens beyond belief, pulling themselves up by their bootstraps and making something outta nothing, and all the law got for them is trouble and grief. And not just local unjust law, but John Law all the way from the f8ckin' USA.

    These women should be worshipped by conservatives, no?  Well, worshipped and admired by everyone, but especially conservatives.  They ain't asking for free public education, welfare, or anything...just to be left alone to live off the land without the constant threat of police & thieves hanging over their head.  Crazy as it sounds its almost easier to understand tyrants of the "left" like Obama & Biden wanting these women in chains than it is tyrants of the "right" like Romney & Ryan. Free market principles demand these women, and all mj growers, be allowed to bring their crops to market legally.

    Fantasy... (none / 0) (#5)
    by ScottW714 on Thu Aug 16, 2012 at 09:17:35 AM EST
    ...thinking the cops will put grandmothers in prison here, but the DEA won't in other countries.  



    The DEA Empire (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by koshembos on Wed Aug 15, 2012 at 10:16:32 AM EST
    The world as a collection DEA colonies fits our over importance at a time of steep decline. Our fake drug morality imposed on a world that wants none of it and of our need to fill up jails and discriminate against our minorities.

    Romney/Obama it's all the same corrupt social mind.

    I was in Swaziland in Nov. 2010, ... (5.00 / 1) (#3)
    by Donald from Hawaii on Wed Aug 15, 2012 at 05:04:26 PM EST
    ... and we stayed there for three days while we were on our trip in southern Africa. It's a small, mountainous but picturesque kingdom, nestled between South Africa and Mozambique.

    Swaziland is one of the few remaining absolute monarchies in the world today. It's nominally ruled by King Mswati III, but in reality, Swazi society is highly matriarchal, and most all the political power rests with the king's mother, Queen Ntombi Tfwala, and the council of his late father's 70 wives, who chose him from among the late king's 67 sons to succeed him in 1986. The Queen and her fellow wives appoint the prime minister and all the people who administer the country, who in turn report to her son.

    We visited the province of Ezulwihi, which is governed by Chief Mdluli, a strong-willed woman in her late 60s who is also Queen Ntombi's sister. The province has been devastated by AIDS, and HIV infects 25% of the population and has left over 1,000 children orphaned.

    Chief Mdluni provides for the care and education of these children personally, and she founded a large primary and boarding school for them in 1998. We visited this school and met Chief Gelane Mdluni, and I have to say that I was greatly impressed by what she has accomplished given her rather limited resources. It was quite obvious that she is highly respected by both the children and the citizens she rules.

    Anyway, I just wanted to provide a bit of first-hand background about Swaziland. It's a poor country that poses absolutely no threat either to us or neighboring South Africa, and we really have no business being there.


    of course... (none / 0) (#4)
    by diogenes on Wed Aug 15, 2012 at 06:43:14 PM EST
    If weed were legal, Swazi Gold would drop a great deal in price since the black market premium would be gone.  You'd see mass quantities of Kentucky weed being grown legally and probably farm lobbies pushing for tariff protection against "imports".