Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Shifts in the War on Drugs?

Peña Nieto: Reconsidering the drug war.

When, a few months ago, Colombia and other countries put the War on Drugs up for discussion at the Americas Summit in Cartagena, some people predicted it would open the door to reassessing the prohibitionist policies. 

Three recent events make me suspect that's started happening.

- Last week, Colombia's high court brought back the right to carry a 'personal dosis' of drugs.

- Meanwhile, the Uruguayan government is planning to grow and market marijuana, in order to take the profits away from violent criminal organizations.

- Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Mexican president-elect Enrique Peña Nieto told PBS News Hour that "I'm in favor of opening a new debate in the strategy in the way we fight drug trafficking. It is quite clear that after several years of this fight against drug trafficking, we have more drug consumption, drug use and drug trafficking. That means we are not moving in the right direction. Things are not working."

That's not good news for Washington, which has backed current Mexico Pres. Felipe Calderon's Colombian-style war against Mexico's drug cartels. That strategy has generated huge amounts of violence in Mexico, while producing questionable impacts on the illegal drug trade.

Mexico seems likely to shift strategies under Peña Nieto, whose PRI party has historically made deals with narcotrafficking cartels to reduce violence. The question is how explicit and how dramatic this shift will be, in the face of inevitable criticism from Washington. 

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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