Latin Americans Seek Drug Policy Debate at the UN

Wednesday's United Nations General Assembly session saw not one, not two, but three Latin American heads of state call on it to promote debate on alternatives to the war on drugs. The presidents of Colombia, Guatemala, and Mexico all used their 15-minute addresses at the Assembly to call for exploring new paths.

Otto Pérez Molina
Outgoing Mexican President Felipe Calderon, who has presided over a drug war that has left more than 55,000 people dead during his six-year term, told the General Assembly the UN should lead "a profound international debate" about ways to reduce drug trafficking and its consequences. The UN itself should do more to intervene if wealthy Western countries that consume "tons and tons of drugs" cannot bring their demand down.

The US and other drug consuming countries need to "evaluate with all sincerity, and honesty, if they have the will to reduce the consumption of drugs in a substantive manner," Calderon said. "If this consumption cannot be reduced, it is urgent that decisive actions be taken." 

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos also called for a "frank, and without a doubt, global" discussion on alternatives to the status quo. "It is our duty to determine -- on objective scientific bases -- if we are doing the best we can or if there are better options to combat the scourge," he said.

According to the UN News Network, Calderon hinted without quite suggesting an examination of legalization alternatives, stating, "The enormous profits from the black market due to prohibition have exacerbated the ambition of criminals, increasing the massive flow of resources to their organizations and allowing them to create powerful networks," adding "thousands and thousands of young people in Latin America have died because of drug trafficking-related violence, and, in particular, the nations that are suffering the most are the ones located between the drug-producing zone in the Andes and the main drug market: the United States."

There was speculation that Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina would actually call for the legalization of the drug trade, as he has in the past, but he didn't go that far in New York.

"We must seek new avenues with responsibility and perseverance, with the cooperation of all: producing, consuming and transit countries," he said, adding that his government "would like to establish an international group of countries that are well disposed to reforming global policies on drugs" and would consider "new creative and innovative alternatives."

A concerted call for discussing alternatives to the drug war, yes. A clarion call for drug legalization, not yet.

New York, NY
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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legalization in usa

If the usa stopped arresting folks on drug charges { except trafficking without a license } , the crime rate would plummet . Less arrest equals less crime right ? But what about the budget ? Should " law enforcement " accept less money with fewer people in order to have a safer society ? Have a more common sense approach to reality ? What does a drug cop of 10 years tell his wife and kids when he is let go and can`t find a job to pay the mortgage and car payments ? His future pension is gone . Will his wife divorce him ? Child support payments ? What about tax payer funded healthcare for his kids by way of his government job ? That to him[her] is much more important than someone being able to get a buzz on something other than alcohol without fear of arrest and imprisonment . Don`t you just pity the fool ? Ever seen drug cops , at a bar , getting drunk after making a marijuana bust ? To celebrate ? It`s happening right now somewhere . The drug war has been a sham on the American taxpayers since day 1 . Delusion is rampant these days . Maybe the folk`s down south will learn to do without the bribery money from D.C. and kick this sham to the curb where it belongs .

Solution to the "lost jobs" issue

We need to steadily transition more people in the criminal justice field to the fields of drug counseling, drug education, and public speaking. If cops/prison guards/etc. are truly sincere in their desire to deal with the drug issues -- marijuana in particular -- then they would welcome the ability to switch to a more effective and less dangerous career path. There is less tobacco usage today because of education, not prohibition...

People lose their jobs all the time due to the invention of a better product, or due to outsourcing/downsizing. This not intended to be a knock on capitalism; it's just the "nature of the beast". I truly feel for these people; my wife included.

For those who get off on busting non-violent drug users... I feel no pity if they lose their jobs... they should suck it up and get a new one like everyone else. How about they join the military instead? People have to reinvent themselves and find new careers, so why should these "Pawns of Prohibition" be treated any differently??

Lord knows the government can use some of its "Drug War" budget to help misplaced criminal justice folks...

the moment is fast approaching

 

The Presidents best option would be to legalize drugs and cut the funding from the cartel’s and then bust them, not for the drugs, but for the murders and mayhem they caused. And the cops need to be looked at as well, they were a big part of the problem.  There may be a chance to legalize very soon because if any one of the three states voting on legalization should do it, it will render federal and international drug laws null and void and it will be the perfect moment to just go ahead and legalize and other nations also drowning in blood and debt will smartly follow because if America can do it everyone can and prohibition will fall like a Berlin Wall. And it will because the drug war always was a total fraud.  The people of Colorado, Oregon and Washington have the chance to be real life super heroes and save thousands of lives end wars and put the economy back on track with the most powerful invention of the human race, the ballot box.  Please register to vote also for medical marijuana initiatives in Arkansas and Massachusetts and any reform friendly politician you can. Gary Johnson for President.  War is Over!  2012!

When ruling families in

When ruling families in Bogota... and for that matter Mexico and other countries no longer are advantaged by U.S. 'participation' in the Drug War, then the U.N. will actually have an influence. Till then talk is cheap... and American 'donations' are expended.

As H. Clinton said when asked if the end of prohibition would ever happen.."No, there's too much money in it".

Absolutely Not; No Debate is Needed We Need to Keep up the Fight

Only a fool would believe that Mexico is serious about fighting narcotics smuggling, arms trafficking, or money laundering.  They enjoy the wealth these activities bring and they - and by they I mean their leaders and the general Mexican public - have a chip on their shoulder and enjoy the suffering these activities inflict upon Americans.

The drug war is worth fighting at least in Mexico it is.

I have some sympathy for Colombia as they have decades of experience where politicians of real character and integrity tried to stop their own countrymen from smuggling and tried to stop corruption.  You won't find such integrity in Mejico.

The smart way to fight the cartels is to steal their customers

In the case of cannabis by outright legalization with reasonable taxes. In the case of other illegal drugs progress could start by legal distribution to addicts, or all users, by public health workers trained as drug abuse harm reduction specialists. That would deprive the cartels of their best customers for these drugs, and would demonstrate that much of the violence supposedly caused by 'hard' drugs is actually caused by their prohibition. 

If users of 'hard' drugs were able to access their drug legally, in return for their not causing society any problems, it seems to me this would create a very strong incentive for them not to cause society any problems.

The power of the vote in

The power of the vote in those two states didn't need to be funded or organized.Their residents spoke and made their decision with their ballots.What you need to do is just come to terms with it and accept that fact. Mary J.

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