Forbes: Will Mexico Declare Peace In The War On Drugs, And Will Obama Let Them?_Featured_, Politics Sunday, July 15th, 2012
By Doug Bandow, Contributor, Forbes.com
July 9, 2012
The Drug War is over. The U.S. government hasn’t stopped arresting people for using pot and other illicit substances. But no one seriously believes Washington is going to “win,” whatever that means. The Drug War is on autopilot, with American politicians afraid to admit the obvious.
However, foreign leaders are beginning to break ranks with Washington, despite the combination of bribes and threats which it has used to keep other governments in line. For instance, last month Mexican President Felipe Calderon, who has vigorously prosecuted the violent drug war that is tearing his nation apart, asked Washington to consider “market solutions” to cut drug gang revenues.
In early July Mexican president-elect Enrique Pena Nieto announced that while he wasn’t for legalization, he wanted to start a discussion on drug policy. Explained Pena Nieto: “I’m in favor of opening a new debate in the strategy in the way we fight drug trafficking. It is quite clear that after several years of this fight against drug trafficking, we have more drug consumption, drug use and drug trafficking. That means we are not moving in the right direction. Things are not working.”
Mexico has paid a high price for failure. As many as 60,000 people have died over the last six years in rising drug-related violence. Yet illicit drugs are getting cheaper, and thus more available, in the U.S. Explained Eduardo Porter in the New York Times, Mexican cartels bring in 95 percent of the cocaine sold on America’s streets, yet the retail price of one gram “is 74 percent cheaper than it was 30 years ago.”
Unfortunately, while Pena Nieto recognized that militarized drug prohibition has failed, he said he’s not talking about reducing enforcement activities—or returning to the Mexican government’s traditional corrupt truce with drug smugglers. Rather, “We will adjust the strategy so that we can focus on certain type of crimes, like kidnapping, homicide, extortion, which today, unfortunately, have worsened or increased, because we have a lot of impunity in some areas. The state’s task is to achieve more efficiency.” Toward that end, he proposed increased cooperation with Washington, just no joint armed operations.