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Latin America: Mexico Ex-President Fox Lashes Out at President Calderon Over Drug War

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #605)
Consequences of Prohibition
Drug War Issues
Politics & Advocacy

For years, former Mexican President Vicente Fox has suggested that drug legalization needs to be on the agenda when discussing how to resolve prohibition-related problems like the wave of violence plaguing Mexico. Now, he's getting personal and political, as he attacks sitting President Felipe Calderon for what Fox is describing as a "failed" effort to send the military after the so-called drug cartels.

Vicente Fox
Fox and Calderon are both members of the conservative National Action Party (PAN), and Calderon replaced Fox in the Mexican presidency in December 2006. With Mexico already stricken by violent conflict among the cartels and between the cartels and Mexican law enforcement, Calderon called out the military to join the fray, but matters have only gotten worse. An estimated 14,000 people have been killed in the conflicts since Calderon sent in the soldiers, with 2,000 being killed in one city -- Ciudad Juarez -- this year alone.

Addressing reporters at the annual conference of the conservative European Popular Party in Vienna last weekend, Fox said Calderon's efforts against the cartels had gone astray and the military should return to the barracks. "The use of the army in the fight against drug mafia and organized crime, the use of force against force gave no positive results. On the contrary, the number of crimes only grows," Fox told journalists on Saturday. "It's time to think of alternative ways to fight the crime," Fox said, adding that police and governments of Mexican states should be charged with anti-drug efforts on their territory, instead of federal forces.

Not that Fox himself had much better luck against the cartels, nor was he averse to using the military. While Fox was president between 2000 and 2006, he deployed troops to Sonora, Chihuahua, Tamaulipas, and other states, especially after 2003, when violence began escalating. By 2005, nearly 1,400 were reported killed in the drug wars, and 2,000 more in 2006.

But those levels of violence, which once seemed extraordinary, would now be a welcome relief after nearly three years of Calderon's campaign and the harsh response from the cartels. This year's toll in Ciudad Juarez alone matches the toll nationwide for the last year of the Fox era.

Fox was also critical of the United States, saying it needed to do more to control arms trafficking, money laundering, and drug use. But he again questioned whether drug prohibition is the best way to attain those ends. "Drug consumption is a personal responsibility, not one of government, Fox said."Perhaps it is impossible to ask government to halt the supply of drugs to our children."

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Anonymous (not verified)

The last sentence of this article is indeed a curious statement, probably a "covering my ass" shot. Of course the government should do all it can to protect children from drug use with the same fervor that it brings to protecting children from forced prostitution and other clearly inappropriate activities.
It shold be noted that drug prohibition, being a top priority, diverts attention from the activities of the "coyotes", the traffickers in humans that so ofter end up in the most tragic manner, something that a sane mind finds difficult to dwell on, and yet consensual drug use by adults elicits the most damnable sanctimony. The supposed horrors of drug use have been so intensively drilled into the collective consciousness that it easily shuts out any concern for real and barbaric criminality.

Fri, 10/23/2009 - 4:30pm Permalink
Anonymous (not verified)

Mexicans know that Fox became rich from drug money himself and has used that money building hotels, etc. Now that he is wanting the military to go home simple means they are causing problems for some of his friends. What is never addressed in any of the stories coming out of Mexico is with or without the military coming into the picture the cartels would be killing each other for control over the routes. Does anyone think that should the military be called back to the barracks that the cartels will suddenly stop killing each other and peace and joy will return to Mexico? The only way to stop this endless war is to treat the addicts as a medical problem and make most drugs legal, taxable and controled by the government. There is really little law and order in Mexico...the system in place is a joke...rotten to the core from the cops on the streets demanding bribes all the way up to the judges and the politicians whoring for the cartels. The only hope the system has is to come down hard and have mandatory sentences for kidnapping and life in prison with no possible chance of ever getting out save costs simple revert to the old days...line them up and shoot them.

Fri, 10/23/2009 - 11:49pm Permalink

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