On Wednesday (5/10), Mexico City Police Commissioner Alejandro Gertz Manero decried the failure of his country's drug war policies and said Mexico should look to Holland for solutions to the drug problem.
In "A Three-Part Solution Against Drugs," a column published in El Universal and translated by the Narco News Bulletin, Gertz argued for a balanced approach to drugs that discourages street level drug activity, educates the public, and treats drug use as a public health rather than a criminal justice problem. The Dutch approach, Gertz wrote, is necessary for its focus on "the fundamental idea of ending the economic interest in drug trafficking, recognizing that addicts are sick and that they require a controlled dose of drugs, that lessens over time, and medical assistance so they can recover."
Narco News Bulletin editor Al Giordano told the Week Online that Gertz's column could represent a turning point in the drug policy debate. "It came from somebody so highly respected and so untarnished, in a country where almost every politician and cop is tarnished by something," Giordano said. "And that he reached toward Holland so strongly is something that could change the direction of the drug debate not only in Mexico but also in Latin America and in all of the Americas as a whole."
Gertz is widely respected in Mexico. Under his tenure as Mexico City's police commissioner, almost every crime index has fallen.
"Not since 1993, when Gustavo de Greiff, the Attorney General of Colombia, came to Boston and said it's time to legalize drugs, has a Latin American official been so well positioned and had such an impeccably clean record himself to be able to speak out on this as what has happened this week with Alejandro Gertz," Giordano said.
Giordano said Gertz's statements are particularly bold, in that he has made them only ten weeks before the national elections. "Already there is an intense amount of world attention on this," he said. "I suspect he has created a space for more people to come out of hiding on this."
You can read the full text of Gertz's column in English at the Narco News Bulletin web site, http://www.narconews.com.