Mexico's President-Elect Wants a 'Broad Debate' About Drug Policy

On Monday, Scott Shackford warned critics of the war on drugs not to expect much from Mexico's president-elect, Enrique Peña Nieto of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). Peña Nieto, like the other two leading presidential candidates, promised voters a change of course aimed at reducing the violence that has left some 50,000 people dead since the outgoing president, Felipe Calderón, began his anti-drug crackdown at the end of 2006. But at the same time, Peña Nieto reassured U.S. officials that he would continue to enthusiastically participate in the vain struggle to stop Americans from obtaining the psychoactive substances they want. Yesterday, in an interview with PBS, he sent a somewhat different signal, saying:

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.

I'm not saying we should legalize. But we should debate in Congress, in the hemisphere and especially the U.S. should participate in this broad debate.

Peña Nieto sounds a little more open to legalization than President Obama, who when he isn't laughing at the very idea calls it "an entirely legitimate topic for debate" but not a policy he would ever seriously consider. Peña Nieto's remarks take on added significance in the context of other Latin American leaders' weariness with the drug war and support for reforms such as decriminalization of possession and even legal distribution of marijuana (albeit through government-run outlets). But let's not get carried away. Calderón himself made similar noises a couple of years ago, and so did his predecessor, Vicente Fox, who as president supported decriminalization of possession (a stingy version of which was enacted under Calderón) and after leaving office went further, saying full legalization should be considered. These rumblings are significant but won't have much impact unless Latin American politicians are prepared to defy the U.S. government's pushy prohibitionists or (even less likely) those prohibitionists reconsider their never-ending, always-failing crusade for a drug-free society.

More on the Mexican drug war here.

[Thanks to Tom Angell at LEAP for the tip.]

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  • ||

    Totally off topic, but I'm going to leave this right here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0to1kGuHlmg

  • ||

    Thanks sage, that is just what I needed to see first thing in the morning over my first cup of coffee.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    Happy Independence Day!

    When George Washington beat the crap out of Hitler in a sniper duel in DC back in 1776, I wonder if he foresaw that our national policy would be set by a conspiracy of puppets whose strings are pulled by self appointed dictators of foreign lands.

  • ||

    I was reading over the comments from last night....holy shit, what did y'all do to the trolls?
    Were they stoned out of their minds? Drunk?
    Mary, shitstick, and nando were completely incoherent. Yeah, yeah, but more than usual.

  • James Otis||

    Justice for Monkey!

  • NotSure||

    Well at least the guy admits there is something wrong when 50 000 have died simply because someone wants people to stop having the choice to take drugs. If Mexico does one day legalise drugs then America will not be far behind, unlike Iraq, Iran, Syria etc. Mexico is too close to the USA to be bullied to do otherwise.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    ...the U.S. should participate in this broad debate.

    Debating women is never a good idea. Just look what it got Gillespie when he debated Ann Coulter.

  • Whiterun Guard||

    The clap?

  • Ken Shultz||

    Peña Nieto sounds a little more open to legalization than President Obama, who when he isn't laughing at the very idea calls it "an entirely legitimate topic for debate"

    A lot of people aren't aware of this, but deciding what is and what isn't a legitimate topic for debate? That's in Article Two, Section Five of the U.S. Constitution.

  • califernian||

    The end of the drug war will never come until people give up believing in the god of government. (Hint: that will be never)

  • ChrisO||

    No, it's really just the god of manna at work.

    The USA won't give up the drug war because it provides a good living to tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of cops, jailers, and bureaucrats. They will ensure that the mindless hysteria over drugs remains in full force.

    Mexico won't give up the drug war because it's very profitable for some very powerful people in a country ruled by basically 10 families.

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