"The war is in our country, but the drug use and arms sales is in the United States"
Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos, who hosted the international conference which is held every three years, downplayed the lack of significant debate on drug legalization. He said that just broaching the topic was itself an important first step which paves the way for a more focused analysis at some later date. President Obama dismissed the idea out of hand, arguing that even if criminal penalties were removed drug cartels would continue engaging in brutalities in order to dominate wide-open markets, and to take advantage of the opportunity for enormous profits which would be presented after legalization.
This morning former Mexican president Vicente Fox issued a public call to the leaders who attended the summit, urging the legalization of all drugs. It's not the first time Fox has done so. He made similar proposals in 2010 and 2011 (Vicente Fox urges legalization of all drugs: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.mx/2011/10/vicente-fox-urges-legalization-of-all.html). Last month Fox granted an interview to the Milenio news network, part of which dealt with his strong opinions on drugs and what he says has been a disastrously failed narcotics strategy (http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2012/03/mexican-nobel-prize-winner-endorses.html).
Today he hit similar themes, arguing that each member of society should be free to decide whether to use drugs and that the state should respect and protect such decisions, which ultimately are a matter of individual choice. Fox contends the enormous funds saved from combat operations could be applied to education, drug awareness training and economic development, and especially to job creation. He noted that although the consequences of the drug war are felt in Mexico every day, the battle itself is ultimately driven by U.S. drug demand and the incessant flow of military hardware from north of the border. In his March interview with Milenio, Fox was harsh in his assessment of American failure to seriously address narcotics consumption and assault weapons availability. He said 60 million U.S. citizens, or about 20% of the population, are guilty of drug crimes, including presidents Clinton and Obama, both of whom have admitted to past marijuana experimentation.
None of Mexico's presidential hopefuls supports Fox's call for outright drug legalization, which has found little popularity inside or outside of the country. PAN candidate Josefina Vázquez Mota has promised to stay the course with the controversial Calderón strategy of using Mexican armed forces to carry the brunt of the drug war, and recently PRI nominee Enrique Peña Nieto finally committed to the same (Peña Nieto says army will play key role in drug war if he's elected: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.mx/2012/04/after-months-of-wavering-pena-nieto.html). But PRD candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador has said he'd replace military units with ordinary police within six months after taking office (López Obrado repeats promise to pull Mexican military forces from drug war: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.mx/2012/02/lopez-obrado-repeats-promise-to-pull.html).
Despite the fact that former president Fox is a member of the National Action Party, last week he delivered a quite public and very damaging broadside to Vázquez Mota, arguing she would need a miracle to win an election that's "already been decided," and predicting that Peña Nieto would be Mexico's next president. The PRI nominee thanked Fox for his "expression of support and backing." (Vicente Fox does his best to sink Josefina: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.mx/2012/04/vicente-fox-does-his-best-to-sink.html).
My opinion: compare and contrast Vicente Fox's idyllic vision of the future with this vision: Mexico's "Inconvenienced Children": http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.mx/2012/04/mexicos-inconvenienced-children.html.
Fox - "Hasta Clinton y Obama se echaron su carrujo de mariguana": http://www.milenio.com/cdb/doc/noticias2011/6b37fd578400d92dfab9aa898f733145.
Vicente Fox "let's make a deal" proposal going over like a lead balloon: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.mx/2011/10/vicente-fox-lets-make-deal-proposal.html.
U.S. rebuffs Guatemalan call to consider drug legalization: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2012/02/us-rejects-guatemalas-proposal-to-open.html.
Calderón to Biden: "Stop weapons flow, money laundering": http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.mx/2012/03/calderon-to-biden-were-partners-but.html#more.
Drug "decriminalization" or legalization, it's all the same at the end of the day: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.mx/2012/02/no-sense-in-saying-decriminalization.html.
Obama says U.S. drug demand is responsible for Latin drug violence: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2011/12/obama-us-drug-demand-responsible-for.html.
Mitt Romney talks tough on U.S. drug demand: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2012/01/mitt-romney-talks-tough-on-us-drug.html.
Mexico's presidential campaign begins: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2012/03/mexicos-presidential-campaign-opens.html.
Increasing poverty, rising state debt result in poor economic report for Mexico: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.mx/2012/02/increase-in-state-indebtedness-poverty.html.