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Streets of Philadelphia: Mexico using US city for anti-drug campaign

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 11/11/2022 Rachel Schilke
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Mexico's government is using videos from Philadelphia's Kensington neighborhood as part of its national ad campaign to draw young people away from using drugs.

Jesus Ramirez, spokesman for Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, announced the ad series through Twitter on Tuesday. The ads feature homeless people slumped against walls and in tent encampments, as well as open-air drug users.

In the ad posted to Twitter, titled “Crystal," a Spanish-speaking voice-over talks about how meth "finishes you off quickly, it takes away hunger and tiredness, and causes hallucinations and psychosis. It damages the body and mind." The ad shows scenes of drug users shaking, contorting, or slumping against walls on Kensington Avenue.

The Kensington neighborhood in Philadelphia is known for its opioid crisis, but the mayor's office said drugs are a problem that is not limited to one area.

“The opioid and overdose crisis in Philadelphia is part of a national and even international epidemic, and we agree it is important for everyone to understand, as this video notes, that all street drugs now present an elevated risk of overdose because of fentanyl’s extreme prevalence,” a spokesperson for Mayor Jim Kenney (D) said in a statement to the Associated Press.


Kenney added that it is always hard to see the neighborhood portrayed in a negative light, stating that "no neighborhood, and no person, should be defined by this tragic and widespread crisis.” 

Mexico's reason for depicting Philadelphia in their ads is unclear, as Ramirez did not respond to requests for comment on how the Mexican government received the videos and why it used them.

“These are terrible ads; they’re truly terrible,” Mexico security analyst Alejandro Hope told the outlet. “They are badly thought out, badly produced, and they are the result of bad public policy. There is no public health message there.”

Only one anti-drug video in the campaign, which focuses on glue sniffing, appears to show Mexican streets. Instead of offering hotlines or treatment advice, Hope said the Mexican government is using scare tactics similar to the Unites States's methods in the 1980s.

“I don’t think these ads are aimed at users, at youths at risk,” he said. “I think these are aimed at a wider and much more conservative audience that viscerally rejects any kind of drug use and whose moral buttons you want to push, to generate a moral terror.”


Philadelphia's number of overdose deaths continues to climb, reaching 1,276 deaths last year. Kenney is known for supporting supervised injection sites. Advocates have praised these sites as a way to curb the scourge of overdose deaths. However, critics argue that safe injection sites perpetuate illegal drug use and burden neighborhoods.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection ended fiscal 2022 having prevented more than 14,700 pounds of fentanyl from slipping into the U.S. — an increase from fiscal 2017, when authorities seized 2,000 pounds.


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Tags: War on Drugs, Mexico, Philadelphia

Original Author: Rachel Schilke

Original Location: Streets of Philadelphia: Mexico using US city for anti-drug campaign


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