Ex-Mexico president calls for legalizing drugs

By buseman · Aug 9, 2010 · ·
  1. buseman
    MEXICO CITY (AP) - Former President Vicente Fox is joining with those urging his successor to legalize drugs in Mexico, saying that could break the economic power of the country's brutal drug cartels.

    Fox's comments, posted Sunday on his blog, came less than a week after President Felipe Calderon agreed to open the door to discussions about the legalization of drugs, even though he stressed that he remained opposed to the idea.

    Fox said places that have implemented the legalization strategy have not seen significant increases in drug use.

    We should consider legalizing the production, distribution and sale of drugs, wrote Fox, who was president from 2000 to 2006 and is a member of Calderon's conservative National Action Party. Radical prohibition strategies have never worked.

    Legalizing in this sense does not mean drugs are good and don't harm those who consume them, he wrote. Rather we should look at it as a strategy to strike at and break the economic structure that allows gangs to generate huge profits in their trade, which feeds corruption and increases their areas of power.

    He said the government could tax the sale of legalized drugs to finance programs for reducing addiction and rehabilitating users.

    Fox also called for the quick withdrawal of the military from public security work, a measure Calderon ordered when he succeeded Fox in December 2006 and stepped up a crackdown on the cartels.

    Fox, who left office with low popularity, has been criticized by some Mexicans for implementing an anti-cartel strategy aimed at arresting the gangs' leaders.

    The approach led to power vacuums that fed fighting among rival cartels, bringing violence that has killed more than 28,000 people since Calderon took office. The government says the largest number of victims have been tied to gangs.

    Fox wrote that drug violence has damaged the perception and image of the country, and economic activity, particularly in tourism and foreign investment.

    Mexico already has some of the world's most liberal laws for drug users, after eliminating jail time for possessing small amounts of marijuana, cocaine and even heroin, LSD and methamphetamine in 2009.

    In Latin America, several countries have decriminalized possession of small amounts of some drugs for personal use, but legalization has made little headway in the region.

    The issue came up at public forum on crime attended by Calderon in Mexico City on Tuesday, where analyst and writer Hector Aguilar Camin said Mexico should take steps toward legalizing all drugs in general.

    It's a fundamental debate in which I think, first of all, you must allow a democratic plurality (of opinions), Calderon said. You have to analyze carefully the pros and cons and the key arguments on both sides.

    Hours later, Calderon's office issued a statement saying that while the president was open to debate on the issue, he remained against the legalization of drugs.

    In his blog, Fox harshly criticized rampant drug violence, writing that the first responsibility of a government is to provide security for the people and their possessions ... today, we find that, unfortunately, the Mexican government is not complying with that responsibility.

    The city most affected by drug violence has been Ciudad Juarez, which lies across the border from El Paso, Texas.

    Four senior federal police commanders in Ciudad Juarez were removed from their posts after subordinates accused them of having links to drug traffickers.

    The action by the Public Safety Department came just hours after 200 federal police officers detained one of their superiors at gunpoint Saturday, alleging he had connections to drug cartels and participated in kidnappings, killings and extortion.

    The department said in a statement late Saturday that the commander held by officers earlier in the day was being transferred to Mexico City along with three other officials. All will be investigated for possible irregular conduct, it said.

    August 8, 2010

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  1. Finn Mac Cool
    Those voices for legalisation are growing stronger by the day.
  2. Terrapinzflyer
    Vicente Fox backs Mexico drugs legalisation

    Former Mexican president Vicente Fox has called for the legalisation of drugs, arguing that prohibition has failed to curb rising drug-related violence and corruption.

    Mr Fox said legalisation did not mean that drugs were good.

    But he said it was a strategy that could reduce the power of the cartels.

    The current Mexican president, Felipe Calderon last week called for a debate on legalisation, but he said he personally opposed the idea.

    Continue reading the main story

    Battling the cartels
    On patrol in Mexico's most dangerous city
    'Family values' of Mexico drug gang
    Beltran Leyva gang
    More than 28,000 people have died in drug-related violence since Mr Calderon took office and deployed the army to fight the cartels.

    Terrible cost
    Vicente Fox was also a supporter of the US-led campaign against drugs when he was president from 2000 to 2006.

    He and Mr Calderon both belong to the conservative PAN party.

    But writing on his blog, Mr Fox said the cost of of the war had been "enormous" for Mexico.

    As well as the loss of life, the conflict had damaged Mexico's international image and economy, and had consumed vast resources that could have been used for other things, he argued.

    "We should consider legalising the production, sale and distribution of drugs," he wrote. "Radical prohibition strategies have never worked."

    "Legalisation does not mean that drugs are good," Mr Fox added.

    "But we have to see it as a strategy to weaken and break the economic system that allows cartels to make huge profits, which in turn increases their power and capacity to corrupt."

    Mr Fox also criticised Mr Calderon's decision to deploy the Mexican army to fight the cartels, saying it had damaged their image and exposed them to human rights violations.

    "They are not prepared for police work," he argued. "They should return to the barracks."

    President Calderon called last week for a debate on the legalisation of the drug trade.

    But he has stressed that he himself was against the idea.

    While legalisation would reduce the financial power of organised crime, he said in an interview with Colombia's radio Caracol on Sunday, it would also make drugs much cheaper, leading "millions and millions" more people to take drugs.

    Mr Calderon insisted he would continue his military-led campaign against the cartels despite rising violence, saying that Colombia had provided a useful example.

    "When Colombia decided to confront the criminals with determination, crime began to retreat and the state began to win," he said.

    Mr Fox's support for drugs legalisation puts him alongside other former Latin American presidents who have called for a new approach to the problem.

    in 2009, Fernando Enrique Cardoso of Brazil, Cesar Gaviria of Colombia and Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico jointly argued that prohibition had failed.

    9 August 2010 Last updated at 19:35 ET
  3. Balzafire
    Mexicans, US question drug legalization proposal

    MEXICO CITY — A former Mexican president's proposal to legalize drugs as a way of breaking the economic power of drug cartels is stoking debate inside his country and bringing opposition in Washington.

    One thing most experts agreed on is that the idea is unlikely to prosper without similar moves to legalize or regulate the sale of drugs in the United States, the main consumer of drugs from Mexico.

    When former President Vicente Fox wrote in a blog Sunday that "we should consider legalizing the production, distribution and sale of drugs," it was the most far-reaching and high-ranking stand for legalization yet in Mexico, where more than 28,000 people have died during the current administration's war against drug cartels.

    Fox belongs to the same conservative National Action Party of current President Felipe Calderon, who said last week that he was open to a debate on legalizing drugs, even though he opposes the idea.

    The increased talk of legalization by even conservative Mexican politicians comes amid growing frustration with the government's use of the military to fight brutal cartels, a strategy that has captured or killed high-ranking traffickers but caused violence to surge.

    The U.S. State Department said Monday that "the question of debating the legalization of drugs is for Mexicans to decide."

    But a State Department spokeswoman who was not authorized to be quoted by name also said that the department's position is that "we don't believe legalization is the answer."

    A similar view was expressed by the Mexican anti-crime group Citizen's Council for Public Safety.

    "The legalization proposal is mistaken, because it shows a lack of understanding of Mexico's problem and avoids the main cause, which is quite simply the government's loss of the monopoly on the use of force," the group said, referring to cartels that confront security forces with grenades, automatic weapons and now car bombs.

    Others say the timing of the debate was determined by events in the United States. Voters in California will go to the polls to decide in November on Proposition 19, which would allow adults to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and local governments to tax its sales.

    "They (Mexican officials) are very afraid that California will legalize marijuana," said Samuel Gonzalez, a former top anti-drug prosecutor.

    "For the government it would be disastrous for California to legalize, while we here are still saying 'don't let drugs get to your children,'" Gonzalez said, referring to a government ad campaign that seeks to justify Mexico's anti-drug strategy.

    "I favor regulating the market ... medicinal marijuana is an attempt to regulation," Gonzalez said, "But legalization, never, ever."

    Jorge Chabat, a Mexican expert on drug cartels, said that "in my opinion, legalize everything and regulate everything ... that could really affect the finances of the drug cartels, especially if the government were the supplier" of drugs.

    Chabat said marijuana remains an important source of income for the cartels.

    In an interview with a radio station over the weekend, Calderon acknowledged "that could be true."

    But he warned that "completely freeing the drug market and even reducing prices are two factors that could push millions and millions of youths to consume drugs."

    Just about everyone agrees Mexico probably can't or won't legalize on its own.

    "If there isn't a generalized, universal legalization policy across the world, and mainly in the main drug consumer, the United States, there won't even be any economic benefits, because the price is determined by the American market," Calderon said.

    Chabat said if the U.S. doesn't take that path, "they won't be able to do it here ... the pressure of the United States would be brutal."

  4. cra$h
    I love this idea, I truly believe that legalizing drugs would create a safER world. It has its downsides, but at least it's better than what we got. But as far as mexico legalizing drugs, this might be a good thing for the user. If it's regulated in Mexico, quality will be forced to rise, thus when it travels over the boarder, it's less stepped on.

    But the counter argument to this whole situation is the source of the cartel's money...... America. All of this violence is based on who's going to bring product across the border to make all the money, because in mexico, there's not nearly the same drug market. So what really has to be done is hit the cartels where it hurts the most- their wallet. If the states were to legalize drugs, mexican cartels would vanish.

    But by mexico legalizing drugs, its a good push to get other countries to do the same (if it works out ok) and the chance of reduction of violence would clean up mexico's act
  5. buseman
    Violence in Mexico Revives Talk About Legalizing Drugs

    MEXICO CITY – The wave of violence unleashed by organized crime groups has revived talk recently about legalizing drugs in Mexico as an alternative to armed solutions.

    The “debate,” which has been limited for now to isolated statements from politicians, legislators, journalists and several non-governmental organizations, started on Aug. 3, when President Felipe Calderon said at a security forum that he opposed legalization but was willing to debate the issue.

    Mexican media have reported on the positions of numerous public opinion movers and shakers since then.

    The Citizens Council for Public Safety and Criminal Justice joined the Movimiento Blanco on Monday in issuing a statement that labeled drug legalization “a smokescreen.”

    The proposal to legalize drugs to end the violence in Mexico “is mistaken because it is based on a deep failure to understand the problem that Mexico is dealing with and ignores the central cause, which is none other than the loss of the monopoly on power by the state,” the NGOs, considered among the most renowned in the public safety area, said.

    Completely deregulating the drug market would cause prices to plunge, leading millions and millions of young people to consume drugs, Calderon told Colombia’s Caracol Radio on Saturday.

    Countries that legalize narcotics would have to pay the price of perhaps losing several generations to drugs, the president said.

    I believe that addictions are the slavery of the 21st century and Mexico cannot be allowed to fall into that, Calderon said.

    If there is no general, universal policy of legalization in the world, especially in the world’s largest consumer of drugs, which is our neighbor, the United States, then you do not even have the economic advantages because the price is determined in the U.S. market, which is the dominant economy, Calderon said.

    Former President Vicente Fox, who governed Mexico from 2000 to 2006, called over the weekend on his blog for legalizing the production, distribution and sale of drugs.

    Legalization in this sense does not mean that drugs are good or don’t harm those who use them, that’s not the point, Fox, who is a member of Calderon’s conservative National Action Party, said.

    What we have to do is view it as a strategy for striking a blow at and breaking the economic structure that permits the gangs to earn enormous profits in the industry, allowing them to corrupt and increase their share of power, Fox said.

    Consumption has not increased significantly in the countries where this strategy has been implemented, Fox said, adding that sales, moreover, have extremely high taxes imposed on them, as is the case with tobacco, allocating these funds for attacking addiction, reducing consumption and rehabilitation.

    The drug legalization debate in Mexico comes at a time when the government is looking to change its strategy for fighting drug traffickers by creating a single police force in each state, eliminating the municipal departments.

    The move is necessary, according to officials, because of the failure by the country’s more than 200,000 state police officers and 165,510 municipal police to fight drug traffickers.

    Calderon declared war on Mexico’s drug cartels days after taking office in December 2006.

    As of July 29, official figures show, a total of 28,228 gangland killings have occurred in Mexico’s drug war.

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