"Plata o Plomo: Silver or Lead" by Marie Javdani

What are Javdani's credentials?
What do her educational, employment, political or even personal interests have to do with what she wrote here?
Could there be any bias?
Where is Colombia? Is it a modern nation?

Here is a brief overview of how Javdani analyzes her topic:

Analysis: she breaks down the current strategies in the "war on drugs" --what are they? what are their effects?
Inference: the strategies are not working--here is how we know this...
Synthesis: If they are not working, the USA needs new strategies. Javdani argues that these would be effective strategies.

Note how she goes beyond merely identifying a problem (which would be a report, since that a problem exists isn't debatable) and offers a solution.

Did you find the MLA style citations obtrusive? How did her use of outside sources affect your reading?

Note that an analysis, or argument, does not come from merely facts/citations, but explaining WHAT THE FACTS MEAN.

You should now have information to do your own analysis of Javdani's essay for the next Writing Response

If you want further information on the process Javdani used to write this, see "Marie Javdani on Writing" (453)

We can divide Javdani's essay structure into 3 parts:

  1. Set up the context for the thesis;
  2. Present details which support her thesis;
  3. Offer a solution

1) Setting up the context for the thesis

1to 3: What writing methods is Javdani using in these paragraphs? Why? What is the reader to make of the brief sketches of the lives of Miguel and Eric?

Why does Javdani write "war on drugs" in quotation marks?
Is it true that "congresspeople, governors and presidents" ignore both youths (the beginning and the end of the problem), and instead merely talk about their plans to combat the middle? Why would they do that?

What is her thesis?

What 3 things does she suggest we do differently?

2) Present details which support her thesis;

4) What is the relation of drugs to life in Colombia? How has that affected stability in the country? Why do Colombian peasants often support the Communist rebels rather than the government, even though they are not communists?

5) What stance is the US taking with these groups in Colombia, and why? (What is the purpose of informing us of this?)

6-7) How has the US actions affected the lives of average Colombians, like Miguel? Does Javdani think this is good or bad? Whose is to blame for the lives (or deaths) of these people?

8) What does the USA do to halt such atrocities? Does it work? Javdani gives 3 different results--what are they?

3) Offer a solution

9) Javdani has now established and supported two things. What are they? What does she think we should do instead?

10) She argues for her solution with the following reasoning:

The real answer to the war on drugs is on OUR end, not in Colombia. (evidence presented earlier that fighting the drug war on Colombia's end is counter-productive and brutal to the poor peasants).

The answer is Eric--cut the demand on drugs, and the drug problem (which affects Miguel) will stop.

To cut the demand on drugs, we need to do two things:

Treatment--this will help people stop doing drugs.

Education--this will make people aware of the consequences of their choices.

What do you think of Javdani's solution here-do you think it will work or not?
What evidence does Javdani give that treatment and education will do what she claims?

11) Who is she aiming this last paragraph at? Is it an emotional or a rational argument?