[El Universal, Mexico]

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La Jornada, Mexico

Rejecting U.S. Drug War is Essential for Mexico's Survival


"All of us must raise our voices and shout 'No more blood!' … drug control is doomed - particularly if we continue down our current path of obeying the dictates of the United States, which has its own agenda and acts in its own interests. … Beyond the interests and opinions of individuals, groups, economic considerations or foreign policy: we must embark on the project of liberalizing drugs."


By Jorge Carrillo Olea


Translated by Anthony Figueroa


April 2, 2011


Mexico - La Jornada - Original Article (Spanish)

In the face of Calderon's reluctance to revise his avowedly poorly made decisions about how to confront organized crime and his failure to achieve the expected results, we should insist on the lawful application of two political values as we pursue the urgent and indispensable need for nationwide drug control. One: respect for and commitment to universally recognized human values; and two: the invocation of reasons of state as a legitimate tool for averting the national shipwreck we are currently headed toward.


[Editor's Note: In Spanish, the phrase "reasons of state or la razón de Estado" refers to measures a leader can take in exceptional circumstances, which presumably in this context, means supra-constitutional or supra-legal measures].


We have reached the limit - the very borders of reason and tolerance. Calderon and his government are finished and the country has been placed at historically unprecedented risk. We can no longer remain silent, inert and frightened. The end of history, according to Frances Fukuyama, would mean the end of war and bloody revolution, and finally contentment. This is unthinkable. But what is possible is for all of us to raise our voices and shout, "No more blood!" Although the effect would be symbolic, it would also be psychologically inspirational. The phrase may take a thousand forms, but the attitude would hasten the end of Calderon and serve as a stern warning to whoever becomes our next president.


No one is proposing an end to the pursuit of criminals. What's required is a less apocalyptic, irrational, insensitive and irresponsible spirit, and at the same time, more sophisticated methods of combating crime, so that this scourge can be gradually brought under control. Where are the seizures of illicit funds and transported weapons, and why have we submitted to the intelligence services of the United States? How can one explain our triumphalism?


Aside from the United States, in the vast universe of world opinion, only one voice has been campaigning exclusively for a military struggle against drugs. In this off-key concert rings only the voice of Mexico, in the person of the president. His spokesmen talk of comprehensive action but fail to offer details - and it's clear that he isn't talking about reducing impunity; nor boosting education or prevention; nor rehabilitation for addicts, nor promoting alternative crops; nor highlighting the battle against poverty, extending urban services for young people or more pursuing more effective international cooperation.


Faced with such stubbornness, what remains is for us to lift our gaze to the international community in search of kindred spirits who share our tragedy. In doing so, we find that many groups and countries have emphatically, depending on their circumstances, decided that to pursue the multifaceted scourge of drugs in a strictly militarized manner is infeasible. Here there is total consensus. The exception is the United States, to whom our foreign service officers should report, and the public be informed, about how widespread this scourge has become, and how the consumption of alkaloids, primarily marijuana, has invaded our families.


Another reason for the next government to invoke reasons of state, which refer to measures that a leader can impose in exceptional circumstances, is the preservation and enhancement of the health and strength of the nation. This is a value that rises above that of the individual or collective rights and even political and international commitments.


Mexico, followed by other countries like Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Colombia, Afghanistan and Turkey, has the most legitimate reason for siding with the universal consensus that drug control is doomed - particularly if we continue down our current path of obeying the dictates of the United States, which has its own agenda and acts in its own interests. We must look toward controlling drugs, not the impossible job of making them extinct. Based on science we have to leave behind concepts of morality and dogmatism and discern, within the law, which drugs may be available under what kind of controls, how soon they should be made available and how to educate the public. This would be a step toward effective drug control.



Some dates of interest: 1) In 1995, the World Health Organization (WHO) produced reports favorable toward such measures, but U.S. influence within the organization prevented them from being published. 2) A U.N. report from 1988 acknowledged that the battle against drugs was drifting from general legal principles. 3) In October 1993, Mexico brought before the U.N. General Assembly a proposal to revise the universal strategy on the subject, which was adopted by acclamation: General Assembly Resolution 48/112 on December 20th of the year. The following governments abstained. 4) Ten years ago, Portugal became the first Western nation to pass full decriminalization. The law (approved in October, 2000) abolished criminal penalties for all drugs - not only marijuana, but also "hard drugs" like heroine and cocaine. This applies to personal consumption only. Drug trafficking remains a criminal offense. Today we have a decade of empirical evidence about what actually happens when criminal sanctions against the possession of drugs are removed: consumption drops, as do the pathology of drugs and related crime. 5) On January 25th, 2010, an ad hoc commission made up of former Latin American presidents Ernesto Zedillo, Cesar Gaviria and Fernando Cardoso, among others, launched a debate by proposing fundamental solutions based on scientific evidence to problems associated with drug consumption. They concluded that the drug war strategy had failed.   



It behooves Mexico, given the extreme nature of our current circumstances, to summon the solidarity and understanding of the international community and invoke reasons of state. Beyond the interests and opinions of individuals, groups, economic considerations or foreign policy, we must embark on the project of liberalizing drugs, not immediately, but by following a plan that includes solid answers to these questions, and probably many more: what drugs should be permitted, how should they be ranked, when should we implement controls, how should we control them, with what amount of social participation, and what institutions should be responsible? We cannot continue like this!



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[Posted by WORLDMEETS.US April 12, 8:19pm]


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