A dozen countries execute drug offenders. More than 1,000 will be shot, beheaded and hung this year in China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia and elsewhere.The drug prohibition victims are mostly poor people paid $1,000 to $5,000 to hide a few pounds of contraband in a suitcase or on their body while entering a (relatively) more prosperous nation.
Mary Jane Veloso, 30, a maid from the Philippines, is a good example.
She worked overseas to help support her rural family. She wasn’t paid anything to be a drug courier other than a promise of a maid’s work in Indonesia if she’d carry 5.7 pounds of heroin in a hidden suitcase compartment on her way.
Mary Jane has maintained innocence from the start, and the Indonesian government provided no evidence to challenge her claim that she didn’t know the suitcase had drugs. But, to understand how drug prohibition perverts minds, assume she is guilty. Then contemplate how an elected government, with public support, considers it acceptable to shoot a single mother in the heart eight times by firing squad because she carried drugs in hopes of become a maid.
This 46-second video clip is taken from a news report in the Philippines. It’s not translated. The meaning is in what’s seen.
Her father buys and sells junk from a cart. The mother and grandmother cook in an outdoor kitchen. Children sleep behind tarps fastened to a corrugated metal roof. The mother is missing most teeth.
Yet…the family is loving, peaceful, intact, multi-generational and Catholic. They are good people.
What does it mean to be poor in most of the world?
What would you do to give your family get electricity, to care for a sick child, to help your sister stay in school?
Mary Jane Veloso worked as a maid in Dubai and elsewhere for an opportunity to send her family $50 a month. If she risked her life to send her family $100 or $1,000 or $5,000, she deserves tolerance, at a minimum, and our respect for this act of sacrifice and love, more properly.
What she does not deserve is death.