Thursday, May 14, 2009

Mexican presidents and legalization

Joining Ernesto Zedillo (and other former Latin American presidents), Vicente Fox has called for the legalization of marijuana to reduce drug-related violence.

"I believe it's time to open the debate over legalizing drugs," he told CNN on Tuesday. "It must be done in conjunction with the United States, but it is time to open the debate."

He pointed to how the end of Prohibition in the United States in 1933 lessened organized crime violence.

"It can't be that the only way is for the state to use force," he said.

This is an interesting development for several reasons.

First, it represents a consistent and high-level rejection of the U.S.-led militarized response to the drug war. This sort of public response is a new phenomenon (like the vocal Mexican response to building the border wall).

Second, it represents a public agreement between presidents of both the PRI and the PAN, though they did not give a joint announcement (sorry, couldn't resist the pun). These are not natural allies, nor would anyone call them soft on crime.

Third, it continues the pattern of former Mexican presidents remaining in the public eye, as opposed to the traditional model of exerting influence behind the scenes.

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