Philadelphia is the new face for the War on Drugs as footage from the beleaguered Kensington neighborhood has found its way into a Mexican anti-drug ad.
The ads were presented Tuesday by Jesús Ramírez, the spokesman for President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, according to the AP, though questions as to where the government obtained the footage or why they used them went unanswered. In a tweet posted Tuesday, Ramirez claimed that the videos were part of Campaign Against Addictions, which sought to inform young people of the damage that can be rendered by drug use.
La Campaña vs las Adicciones del @GobiernoMX busca informar a los jóvenes de los daños que provoca a la salud el consumo de drogas químicas. La información y la participación de la familia y de la escuela son importantes factores de protección vs las adicciones. ¡Infórmate! pic.twitter.com/A8MkptVqHG
— Jesús Ramírez Cuevas (@JesusRCuevas) November 8, 2022
Though the ad spots never identify the city or neighborhood shown as Philadelphia, the videos have sparked concern over Philadelphia’s overall image and has raised eyebrows given that Mexico is the source of most of the fentanyl being sold in the United States, per AP News
“The opioid and overdose crisis in Philadelphia is part of a national and even international epidemic, and we agree it is important for everyone to understand, as this video notes, that all street drugs now present an elevated risk of overdose because of fentanyl’s extreme prevalence,” a spokesperson for Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney stated according to the AP News.
“Having said that, it is always hard to see our city’s people and neighborhoods portrayed in a limited and negative light. No neighborhood, and no person, should be defined by this tragic and widespread crisis,” they said.
Mexico security analyst Alejandro Hope criticized the ads as “terrible” calling them the result of “bad public policy” adding that there is “no public health message there” as the ads do not include hotlines, advice or treatment options, reported AP News. Instead, Hope argued, these ads are repeating “the most aggressive U.S. drug-scare tactics of the 1980s.”
Kelly Garant, a peer care coordinator in Philadelphia for a nonprofit organization that helps people struggling with addiction, called the ad exploitative and unacceptable. “They are actually in a state of crisis, and to be exploited when they’re that vulnerable, it’s just not acceptable. You don’t know whose mother or father or brother that is,” she said per the AP News.