With the death toll from drug prohibition-related violence in Mexico at around 600 so far this year, the country appears to be on a path to match or exceed the 2,000 drug war deaths reported last year. While military operations authorized by incoming President Felipe Calderon of the National Action Party (PAN) have led to arrests and drug seizures, they appear to have had no substantive impact on the multi-billion dollar a year business of supplying Americans with the illegal drugs they demand.
The first rumblings came in the middle of last week, when Javier González Garza, the PRD's legislative coordinator in the Assembly, called for an end to the drug war. The endless war against the so-called drug cartels is fruitless, he said in an interview posted on the party web site.
"I believe that we cannot continue with this affair thinking we are going to combat the problem of the drug traffic without more radical measures," said González Garza. "One of these has to be the legalization of drugs in the United States. Then, we could begin to change things. Those military operations during this presidency, it's obvious that they are not obtaining results. I think that the US is the largest market and because of that, there is where we can achieve an international accord where we can pass to the next level, to legalize the consumption of certain types of drugs, and then eliminate this type of thing that is happening. That's one part," he said.
Then, last Friday, PRD Sen. René Arce Islas, secretary of the Senate's Public Security Commission, proposed the "National Agreement to Combat Organized Crime," including drug legalization. Ending drug prohibition is controversial, but reasonable, said Arce. "Evidently, that is a radical action that generates much controversy, but if we analyze it with maturity and serenity, evaluating the pros and cons, the risks and potential benefits, you cannot discard being able to arrive at an agreement that would, from our point of view and many specialists, do away with the drug traffic and the delinquency that accompanies it."
The PRD and its allies control 157 seats in the 500-seat Assembly, while the PAN controls 206, and the party of the former "perfect dictatorship," which ruled Mexico for seven decades, the PRI, is reduced to third place with 106 seats. In the last legislative session, a bill that would have decriminalized drug possession in Mexico was on the verge of passage when pressure from the United States caused then President Vicente Fox to back away. Will another year's worth of drug prohibition-related horrors lead to a different result this time around?