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Chiva: A Village Takes on the Global Heroin Trade Paperback – February 1, 2005
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"Chiva" is street slang for heroin-and heroin is a hot topic.
Its use as a narcotic is on a precipitous rise. Worldwide heroin production has doubled in the last decade, and the United Nations estimates more than fifteen million users are addicted-up to three million in the United States. It's big business, too, with yearly global sales of 0 billion-up to billion in the U.S. Enmeshed with terrorism, crime, government collaboration, corporate globalization, and the spread of HIV, the opiate trade is inextricably entangled with the functioning of global society. Finally, heroin is controversial because of the on-going debates about solutions to the health, social and economic havoc it creates.
Chiva uses creative nonfiction to merge the global epic of heroin trafficking with the human-scale story of its presence in the small desert town that boasts the most per-capita overdose deaths in the U.S. The book interweaves three themes:
- The true tale of Chimayo, New Mexico, terrorized by its heroin dealers since the 1970s until, in the late '90s, its citizens rose up to challenge the epidemic in their midst.
- The story of the author's relationship with a local dealer, and his involvement with addiction, crime, love, recovery and the judicial system.
- The political context behind these stories: the global workings of the heroin production business.
Compelling, disturbing, yet hopeful, Chiva is both personal and political, revealing the relationship between colonization and drug abuse, and the importance of reclaiming sustainable culture as a key to recovery.(2004-04-20)
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
In Chimayo, New Mexico, that emissary is Chellis Glendinning.
At one time Chimayo ranked #1 in drug overdoses in a state (New Mexico) that also ranked first in this grim category. This book is a story--personal, cultural, wrenching, hard to read in places because disturbing in its detail--of how the Chicanos and Mexicanos of Chimayo went back to their cultural roots to push the dealers out of their town, then apply the wisdom of those roots to healing the victims of the dragon Chiva, "heroin."
The use of "roots" is deliberate, because as the author makes clear, the drug problem is a product of a long tradition of colonial expansion and devastation in which a land-based people have been globalized, exploited, and thrust into poverty on soils their ancestors once cultivated and loved. From out of that soil came the remedies to combat sniffed, smoked, and injected poisons which users employ to forget for a moment that they are poor; that they have few options and scarce employment; that they are seen by the culture that has alienated them as aliens.
Whence this black-market plague of Thebes?Read more ›
For those advocating legalization (of hard drugs) as the remedy to this problem, I suggest reading this and then asking yourself: is this the kind of country I want to live in? And for those that think the current plan in the war on drugs is working, I have the same suggestion. Quite obviously it is not working and will not cure the problem.
The author points out that at one time heroin was legally introduced to China. The result: over one quarter of the adult population became hopelessly addicted. In Chimayó, the supply was plentiful, with an individual dose costing $15, but anyhing not nailed down was likely to be stolen. Overdoses and shootings were common events. A friend of mine from a barrio full of tecatos in Juarez speaks of the same.
Anywhere heroin has been introduced without control to a population, usage of the drug has increased exponentially. With disastrous consequences.
The writing is good and kept me interested from start to finish. But I think the weakness of the book comes near the end where solutions to the problem are offered. There, you'll find more questions than answers.
I highly recommend Chiva for anyone interested in the drug problem or the region described in the book.
Contrary to "About the Author", Chellis Glendinning is a she, not a he.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Very much the human side of rural/frontier addiction in an oppressed culture. I'm impressed by the courage required to write this book.Published 9 months ago by Amazon Customer
I drive through Espanola a few times a year.....I remember hearing about how it was the heroin OD capital of the US...Always wanted to know what the real story was.. Read morePublished on December 4, 2009 by Trent Rock