Let’s End The War On Drugs

By Mel Goldberg


war-on-drugsMexico should end any attempt to stop drug shipments into the US and work to solve its own problems.  

Under President Calderon, Mexico got in bed with one devil, the United States, attempting to do its bidding with disastrous consequences. Calderon made a government crackdown on warring drug cartels the hallmark of his six-year term, which expires in December. His center-right party, PAN (Partido Acción Nacional), will probably lose the coming election because people believe that the crackdown has not worked and has caused the current violence. The US media publishes stories suggesting that drug addiction and the consumption of narcotics north of the border continues because Mexico has failed.  

What has Mexico’s partner in the War on Drugs done? Allowed a flow of guns, especially assault weapons, from the United States to Mexico, which sabotaged the work of Calderon’s government. Calderon singled out the high number of gun shops along the U.S.-Mexico border, suggesting a deliberate attempt to profit from the Mexican market. Clearly if the traffic of illegal weapons from the United States continues and Washington doesn’t reinstate a ban on assault weapons, it will become impossible to halt the violence in Mexico.

Yet “Operation Fast and Furious,” a sting operation run by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, authorized weapons to be purchased illegally in order to track them to senior drug cartel members, but agents lost track of hundreds of weapons in the process. Equally as bad, a U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration instituted a drug money-laundering scheme which transferred millions of dollars to Mexican drug cartels, giving narcotics traffickers laundered drug proceeds in a failed attempt to discern how those funds would move, and to whom.

Now it is time for the people of the United States to take responsibility for their actions. Ron Paul said the prohibition of drugs is less successful than the prohibition of alcohol in the 1920s. Otto Pérez Molina, the president of Guatemala wanted Latin American leaders to end the prohibition entirely. Mexico’s president, Felipe Calderón, called for a national debate on the issue. Colombia’s president, Juan Manual Santos, welcomed any solution that curtailed the power of organized criminal gangs who thrived during prohibition. George Shultz, the former US Secretary of State, former president Jimmy Carter, and Fernando Enrique Cardoso, former president of Brazil and chairman of the global commission on drug policy, have called for more effective drug policies.

But the US government continues to believe that throwing money at the problem will solve it. In 2010 the U.S. Federal government spent more than $15 billion dollars in the War on Drugs - $500 per second. State and local governments spent at least another 25 billion dollars. Law enforcement made an estimated 1.6 million arrests for drug abuse violations, thirteen percent of the total number of arrests. An arrest for violating a drug law occurred every 19 seconds.

In 2011, the U. S. government tripled its spending with more than $1,700 per second on a losing War on Drugs. But the availability of drugs increased along with a significant increase in drug related violence here in Mexico. Are there any realistic solutions? Should Mexico bring in the military? Should the US move to legalization? Should the Mexican government deal with the cartels?

Mexico does not have the troops, the money, the equipment, or any of the things necessary to increase the military involvement. De-criminalizing or legalizing drug usage in the United States may or may not solve the problem.

The cartels exist. Eliminating them is like trying to stop an avalanche by standing in its way. If the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI) wins the presidency in July, they do not need to make deals with another devil.

It is not possible to sit down and talk with the cartels, or shake hands with them. For five and a half years, Calderon’s government has concentrated too much of its resources on fighting drug trafficking. Mexico needs to use its resources on what matters to the Mexican people and deal with the violence and crime that hurt them. Not on drug trafficking.

It is time for Mexico to stop worrying about what matters to the U.S.



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