Monday, August 09, 2010

Production! Sale! Distribution! Legalize!

Vicente Fox, as president, and Ernesto Zedillo, his immedidate predecessor.
Both favor legalization of drugs. Their successor, Felipe Calderon, does not.

Early last week, Felipe Calderon hummed and hahed over legalizing drugs, preferring instead to talk about how he favored a debate about drug legalization. Newspapers from around the world suggested that Calderon had warmly invited a debate.

Yet late last week, his immediate predecessor, Vicente Fox Quesada (2000 - 2006), offered a more concrete proposal. Where Calderon prejudiced his comments about debate by declaring disfavor for legalization, Fox intimated that the debate about legalization -- with evidence in hand and at least in his mind -- has already been won. Motivated in part by a desire to confront the 28,000 corpses from drug violence since 2006, and resurrect Mexico in the world's eyes, Fox offered his own recipe for the debate about legalization.

The legal production, sale, and distribution of all drugs.

It was a practical post from the former Coca Cola Mexico chief executive. Before he dealt with drugs, Fox wrote that Mexico would need to take the Army off its streets and return them to their barracks. A new National Police should be created, and its constitution operate at a state level. Citizens should -- as a way to reduce politicking over security -- elect those responsible for safety, like police chiefs, and other security professionals. There would also be a need to reform the Ministerios Publicos, agents who help prosecutors with the inquisitorial process in the judicial system.

Fox didn't just focus on public safety reforms. He suggested that a broad, advertised health campaign could help prevent addiction, or help those already addicted to rehabilitation.

Fox made sure -- unlike his successor Felipe Calderon -- to not take a position in favor or against drugs. Rather his position is borne of real politik:

"we have to see the outcome of a strategy to hit and break the
economic structure of the mafias to generate enormous profits in
commerce. [Prohibition] serves to corrode and increase their
hold on power."
Before he drew his post to a close -- in a comment that should have been directed at Calvina Fey of the Drug Free America Foundation -- Fox wrote that radical prohibition "has never functioned." Instead, he suggested that his position has three bases: 1. experience, 2. self-criticism, and 3. "successful practices from other countries."

Fox now joins three other former Latin American presidents, Zedillo of Mexico, Gaviria of Colombia, and Cardoso of Brazil in declaring the death of the War on Drugs. Barack Obama's drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, has suggested it should end, but the U.S. remains wedded to a zero tolerance counter-narcotics strategy. Last week it posted 1,200 National Guard to the U.S. border area.

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