Following Obama's North American summit
this week in Mexico, experts are evaluating a defining element of
U.S.-Mexico relations: the war on drugs. While they mostly agree that it has been unsuccessful thus far, pundits differ on how to change course.A Time Out
Juan Gabriel Tokatlian and Colombian presidential nominee Rafael Pardo warned
in the Christian Science Monitor against "yet another losing war on
drugs." The authors said the goal, "to deter both potential consumers
and producers from entering the drug market," has "failed." Crack-downs
in Central and South American countries have only led to "shifted
production" and caused "negative effects on human rights,
civil-military relations, the environment, and the rule of law – all
very fragile in Latin America." Tokatlian and Pardo advocated a
one-year break, during which an independent commission of "leading
experts from the Americas, nongovernmental organizations, policymakers,
and the media" would reevaluate how to retool the war on drugs.Focus on Honuras
The Wall Street Journal's Mary Anastasia O'Grady argued
that Obama should disavow deposed Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, who
she said remains connected to FARC, "the most important South American
supplier of illegal drugs to North America." O'Grady criticized Obama,
and especially Mexican President Felipe Calderón, for supporting
Zelaya. "Even if Messrs. Obama and Calderón don't care about the
Hondurans, they can't ignore the likelihood that the establishment of a
government in Honduras would raise the cost, in blood and treasure, of their war on drugs," she wrote.
Shut Down the War
Diane Francis of the Huffinton Post, in a column titled "U.S. War On Drugs is Killing Mexico
called the war on drugs "a total failure." Francis wrote that
"instability and corruption is metastasizing in Mexico, driving more
Mexicans out of the country or into crime." She noted, "Last year,
4,000 important civic officials from police chiefs to mayors
and judges were assassinated by the country's powerful drug cartels."
She argued that "Americans must recant, and abandon, their drug
Prohibition policies and adopt European or Canadian-style health care
to deal with the problem." Improved health care would, she said, help
fight "the myth that addicts are criminals, not sick persons."
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