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25th Anniversary Issue

Current 25: 25 years of memories submitted by our readers

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President George W. Bush hosted the presidents of six Latin American nations including Mexico and Colombia here in 1992. For several days San Antonio was going to be featured on the network news. It was going to be the most publicity the city had gotten since 1984 when a local baboon’s heart was transplanted into little Baby Fae. I was a freelancer reporter for the Current at this time, and being true to the spirit of the Current I concentrated on those opposed to the Drug War — the protestors. I connected with a group of free-spirited college students from San Marcos who set up camp on Broadway. They were armed with homemade signs, bongos, guitars, and a little reefer. The president’s motorcade did pass by a couple of times. The protestors chanted, waved their signs, and inhaled. But they had no impact on the Drug Summit and U.S. policy on the prohibition of recreational narcotics.

If you’ll pardon the pun — there was no “high” point of the Drug Summit, but the low point had to be the closing press conference. President Bush was clearly frustrated with the press corps., but it was local TV reporter Brian Karem who bluntly forced the unwelcome point to the President that the whole summit was a “joke.” I knew Karem back then and he could be a difficult person to work with but he could get a story where others failed. That day he managed to talk his way into a press conference where he wasn’t supposed to be and then bulldog the President to take his question: “I spent some time with narcotics agents over the last few days who made busts who tell us that they’re tired. They don’t believe the war on drugs can be won. They consider this summit a joke, and they consider the President’s cooperating in this summit to be a joke as well.”

As Karem asked the question it was clear that President Bush was furious and he didn’t really give an answer. Hours later Karem was fired. But what about the question? Here we are almost 20 years later and the War on Drugs continues. Narcotics are still cheap and easy to get. Families are still being wrecked by the effects of drug addition. And now the hunt for the billions of dollars in drug profits is turning Mexico into a lawless land with beheadings and running gun battles in the streets. Karem got fired but they couldn’t fire reality. And we are dealing with the consequences. — David Martin Davies

 

The celebration that erupted right after the Spurs won the 1999 NBA Championship is something I will never forget. The traffic on I-37 near the Alamodome came to a standstill. People were exiting their cars and high-fiving other drivers and passengers on the highway. There were pedestrians filling the sidewalks downtown and traffic jams forming all over downtown. All of this happened without any riots, cars being burned or turned over, or arrests because of serious crimes. I think that this early day “flash mob” revealed the true character of San Antonio and its citizens. The cause of this event might be thought of as superficial, but the outcome, with its lack of violence and crimes, is not. — Alex Martinez

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