Mauricio Fernandez Garza, scion of Monterrey's immensely powerful and wealthy Garza Sada family, has called for the legalization of drug use and the drug trade. Fernandez Garza, a former senator for the conservative National Action Party (PAN) and currently fighting to win the PAN nomination for governor of Nuevo Leon, told the Mexico City newspaper El Universal Wednesday that legalizing drugs would not only combat the corrosive social effects of the black market drug traffic, but would also allow the government to tax drug sales in the same way it taxes alcohol and tobacco.
Fernandez Garza is something of a maverick within the ranks of the PAN, a party whose politics are rooted in Catholic conservatism and support of free enterprise. Although a panista, Fernandez Garza has political ties not only with the PRI, the party that ruled Mexico for 70 years until sitting President Vicente Fox was elected in 2000, but also with the left-leaning Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) and its former presidential candidate, Cuauhtemoc Cardenas, as well a longstanding friendship with Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
Although President Fox once made noises about drug legalization and his Foreign Minister Jorge Castaneda had famously advocated the same thing, Castaneda has now resigned and Fox has publicly embraced US-style prohibitionist policies.
Fernandez Garza told El Universal that he had smoked marijuana when he was young, just as "I wet the bed when I was little." But while Fernandez Garza's self-admitted use was in his youth, he told El Universal that adults should be able to make the decision to use drugs for themselves. "If you're grown up and have a mustache, well, then, you should be able to smoke a joint and even pay taxes to help care for the children," he said.
Visit http://www.stopthedrugwar.org/shadows/ -- the home page of our conference series Out from the Shadows: Ending Drug Prohibition in the 21st Century, which convened in Mexico last month -- for more about support for legalization in Mexico and Latin America.