Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Mexico's Opposition Calls for 'Drug Legalization' - Starting with the US

The latest edition of the US based Drug War Chronicle newsletter details some interesting developments in Mexico, following in the wake of last years efforts by President Fox (a long time supporter of drug law reform) to decriminalise personal posession of drugs, which were ultimately thwarted due to heavy political pressure from the US :

While military operations authorized by incoming President Felipe Calderon of the National Action Party (PAN) have led to arrests and drug seizures, they appear to have had no substantive impact on the multi-billion dollar a year business of supplying Americans with the illegal drugs they demand.

Now, as the nation ponders a fundamental reform of the government itself, the leading opposition party, the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) is calling for a National Agreement to Combat Organized Crime (read: the drug trade), which would include discussion of legalizing drugs.

The first rumblings came in the middle of last week, when Javier González Garza, the PRD's legislative coordinator in the Assembly, called for an end to the drug war. The endless war against the so-called drug cartels is fruitless, he said in an interview posted on the party web site.

Javier González Garza

"I believe that we cannot continue with this affair thinking we are going to combat the problem of the drug traffic without more radical measures," said González Garza. "One of these has to be the legalization of drugs in the United States. Then, we could begin to change things. Those military operations during this presidency, it's obvious that they are not obtaining results. I think that the US is the largest market and because of that, there is where we can achieve an international accord where we can pass to the next level, to legalize the consumption of certain types of drugs, and then eliminate this type of thing that is happening. That's one part," he said.

"The other part has to do with being able to think of other actions," González Garza continued. "This war, as it is now conceived, will cause us to lose everything; it doesn't make any sense. There have to be changes in that."

Then, last Friday, PRD Sen. René Arce Islas, secretary of the Senate's Public Security Commission, proposed the "National Agreement to Combat Organized Crime," including drug legalization. Ending drug prohibition is controversial, but reasonable, said Arce. "Evidently, that is a radical action that generates much controversy, but if we analyze it with maturity and serenity, evaluating the pros and cons, the risks and potential benefits, you cannot discard being able to arrive at an agreement that would, from our point of view and many specialists, do away with the drug traffic and the delinquency that accompanies it."

Sen. René Arce Islas

The PRD and its allies control 157 seats in the 500-seat Assembly, while the PAN controls 206, and the party of the former "perfect dictatorship," which ruled Mexico for seven decades, the PRI, is reduced to third place with 106 seats. In the last legislative session, a bill that would have decriminalized drug possession in Mexico was on the verge of passage when pressure from the United States caused then President Vicente Fox to back away. Will another year's worth of drug prohibition-related horrors lead to a different result this time around?
Thanks to (US)

It does make you wonder, if Mexico can sensibly debate these sorts of issues in Parliament, why it is quite so terrifying for UK policy makers.


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