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Creating Community in Violent Times: An Interview with Author Luis Rodriguez

February 08, 2002

The Bush administration has kicked off a flashy media blitz that links illegal drug use with acts of terror.Full-page ads ran in major U.S. newspapers this week bearing the message, "drug money helps support terrorism." Theads followed a series of television commercials that aired during Sunday’s Super Bowl, the biggest advertising day ofthe year.

In the past, government anti-drug ads have focused largely on the impact of drugs on the people using them. However,tactics have changed in the wake of September 11. In one of the newspaper ads, a young person says, "Last weekend Iwashed my car, hung out with a few friends and helped murder a family in Colombia." The message suggests that buyingdrugs helps fund so-called terrorism.

The ads are part of an annual $180 million media campaign to reduce drug use among young people in America. The WhiteHouse Office of National Drug Control Policy spent almost $3.5 million to place the two 30-second ads during thewidely watched Fox television broadcast. That’s over $50,000 a second, by far the largest single-event advertisingbuy in U.S. government history.

"Lost causes are the only ones worth fighting for" affirms Luis Rodriguez in his most recent book ??Hearts andHands: Creating Community in Violent Times. In his book "Hearts and Hands" Rodriguez takes us into the troubledhomes these kids are born into, the tough neighborhoods where they grow up, the courtrooms where they are judged, theprison cells where they are locked up, the cemeteries where they are buried.


  • Luis Rodriguez, community activist, poet and author of the award-winning memoir ??Always Running: La VidaLoca: Gang Days in L.A. and, most recently, ??Hearts and Hands: Creating Community in Dangerous Times. Hefounded the Tia Chucha Press, which publishes young socially-engaged poets, and is also a founder/board member ofYouth Struggling for Survival, a Chicago-based youth community organization.

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