US must legalise drugs to stop violence


Former Mexican President’s Passionate Call to the US: Stop Bloodshed And Legalize Drugs

AlterNet / By Tony Newman
October 22, 2011  

In his call for the United States to accept – and change – reality, former Mexican President Vicente Fox pointed to the history of prohibition and shifting popular opinion.

Former Mexican President Vicente Fox made a passionate and powerful call for an end to the war on drugs and called on the United States to legalize drugs to help reduce the violence in Mexico in an interview with BBC TV his week. Fox is critical of current Mexican President Calderon and the US government’s counterproductive “drug control” strategy – and says they are responsible for the 50,000 prohibition-related deaths in Mexico in just the last five years.

Fox explains that the United States should learn from the history of alcohol prohibition and that the answer to today’s violence is to legalize drugs and treat them as a health issue, rather than a criminal issue.

When the BBC reporter implies that he is naïve to think the US will legalize drugs, Fox points out that public opinion is changing rapidly. He mentions that a Gallup poll this week showed for the first time that 50 percent of Americans support making marijuana legal.

President Fox is part of a growing choir of world leaders speaking out against the drug war. This summer, the Global Commission on Drug Policy made worldwide news when they called for far-reaching changes in the global drug prohibition regime – including not just alternatives to incarceration and greater emphasis on public health approaches to drug use but also decriminalization and experiments in legal regulation. The Commission is comprised of former U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan; Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group; four former presidents, including the commission’s chairman, Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brazil; George P. Shultz, former U.S. Secretary of State; Paul Volcker, former Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve; and several other distinguished world leaders. 

Building on the Global Commission, there will be a major event on November 15th, organized by the libertarian CATO Institute, called  “Ending the Global War,” featuring heavy hitters like former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former Mexican Minister of Foreign Affairs Jorge Castaneda, Wall Street Journal editorial board member Mary Anastasia O’Grady and others.

The voices rising up against the failed drug war are not only at the “grasstops” level.  Mexican poet Javier Sicilia, whose son was killed earlier this year in drug war violence, has mobilized tens of thousands of people across Mexico to demand an end to the war. Sicilia is participating in the International Drug Policy Reform Conference in Los Angeles, where more than 1,000 people from around the world – including many formerly incarcerated people and other victims of the drug war – are going to meet on November 2nd- 5th.

President Fox and Javier Sicilia are pointing out the obvious: the war on drugs has failed. We need to join them. We need to find an exit strategy from this un-winnable war.

Tony Newman is communications director for the Drug Policy Alliance.


Former Mexican president: ‘US must legalise drugs to stop violence’

19 October 2011

The former President of Mexico has told the BBC that he holds the United States responsible for the violence in his country.

Vicente Fox, who was president from 2001 to 2006, said consumption of drugs in the US was at the root of the problem and he called for the legalisation of drugs in America.

Forty-five thousand people are estimated to have been killed since Mexico’s current President Felipe Calderon launched his war on the drug cartels five years ago.

Speaking to the BBC’s Katty Kay, Mr Fox said it was time to withdraw the military and to seek an alternative strategy.

Watch here (2:40mins):

Calderon comments spark Mexico drugs war row with PRI
16 October 2011

Mexican President Felipe Calderon has sparked a political row by suggesting the main opposition party, the PRI, might consider deals with drugs gangs if it wins the presidency in 2012.

Mr Calderon made the comments in an interview with the New York Times.

PRI politicians have dismissed the suggestion as absurd, and demanded a retraction and apology.

The PRI ruled Mexico for 70 years until 2000, and is favourite to return to power at elections in 2012.

The party has previously been accused of making secret deals with drugs gangs while it was in power to keep the peace in Mexico, though it denies this.

The PRI has been critical of Mr Calderon’s policy of deploying the army to fight the cartel, saying it has fuelled drug-related violence in which more than 40,000 have been killed during his five years in office.

In the New York Times interview, Mr Calderon was asked whether the PRI might fall into a corrupt relationship with organised crime if it won the presidency.

“It depends on who it is,” he replied.

“There are many in the PRI who think the deals of the past would work now. I don’t see what deal could be done, but that is a mentality that many of them have”.

The PRI’s spokesman in the senate, Carlos Jimenez Macias, dismissed the accusation as electioneering.

“it is absurd and irresponsible to make a statement of that kind,” he told the Mexican newspaper El Universal.

President Calderon should either present evidence or withdraw the remark, he added.

Correspondents say Mr Calderon’s comments are unusual, as Mexican presidents are expected to remain above party politics.

Mr Calderon is not standing for re-election as Mexico’s constitution limits presidents to one six-year term.

But he has stepped up his defence of his military approach to tackling the drugs cartels, which is widely seen as the defining policy of his presidency.

Asked by the New York Times if he would be remembered for the spiralling violence, Mr Calderon said it was possible that some would remember him that way.

“But if Mexico triumphs as I am sure it will, if Mexico subdues the criminals and reconstructs its social fabric, there will also be those that remember me as the president who dared take on the criminals”. 



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