An Eden of cannabis next to Mexico's Senate
In parallel to the fight against Narcos, the campaign for the legalization of marijuana in Mexico continues to be strong. Is it a contradiction or part of the solution?
Since last February, when pro-cannabis activists planted seeds in this garden, many smokers have come to escape the worldly noise and the threat of pandemic to "roll" some weed without fear of arrest.
"Being able to smoke here [in the garden] in freedom is very important to me," Marco Flores, a barista sitting peacefully on a bench overlooking the Congress building, told Reuters.
"I don't go out in the street in fear anymore."
Although the Supreme Court of Justice ruled that laws prohibiting marijuana use are unconstitutional, there is currently no bill legalizing its use in Mexico, and "smokers" can still be legally prosecuted. However, the police do not seem very interested in the "Garden of Maria" and its caretakers run it by taking anti-coronavirus security measures, with people entering for 30 minutes.
"It's great that they've opened up a space for people who are open to new experiences, or who want to find out a little bit about it," another smoker told Reuters. "You can come and check it out."
While most people take it as a redoubt of freedom in the midst of widespread chaos, there are even those who think, like the cannabis activist José Ribera, that this garden is a tool to educate and offer "human rights."
"We want them [Mexican legislators] to understand that we are smoking quietly and that we are not a risk to anyone," he said. "No more mistreatment."
All of this is happening at a time when Mexico is facing a double pandemic, the virus and the Narco, which is still mowing down many lives in the country. So much so that, according to data from Quinto Elemento Lab, by the end of 2019, there were almost 39,000 bodies yet to be identified in Mexican morgues.
Organizations formed by relatives of the disappeared such as Rastreadoras del Fuerte, in Sinaloa, with whom AL DÍA News spoke, continue to search for their lost "treasures" in hills and hollows with the scarce help provided by the government, which is incapable of stopping the spiral of crimes resulting from the drug war.
Now, can the legalization of marijuana consumption be of help in the fight against the trafficking of other types of drugs that are much more harmful and a breeding ground for violence?
While the head of the Ministry of the Interior (Segob) Olga Sánchez Cordero defended the recreational use of cannabis to the detriment of other synthetic drugs in an interview and joked about a "little plant" that a senator had given her and was going to plant in her garden "wishing fervently that the law would already be approved," the Mexican journalist and writer Jesús Lemusen declared to Infobae:
"The legalization of marijuana does not help to diminish the problem [of drug trafficking]. For every kilogram of marijuana that drug trafficking moves around the country, at least 20 kilos of cocaine are being moved. That is to say, there is no point in legalizing the softer and less consumed drug, when in fact the great problem of drug trafficking or the profits of drug trafficking are found in cocaine or fentanyl or other synthetic drugs. This legalization is laughable, it will not help in any way against drug trafficking. There may be some other social benefits of course, such as recreational purposes, there are those who consume it for pleasure, but for the effects of drug trafficking it has no impact for me," he concluded.
Meanwhile, in the "Garden of Maria", right next to the Senate, a green and leafy jungle full of pot, is for many, a kind of peace pipe.