300 PALABRAS – A Visit that Lead to More Debate

By: Dr. Mario Melgar-Adalid – The President of Colombia made an official visit to Mexico. In addition to all of the agreements and customary public statements, such visit renewed the debate on the so called war against drugs. Colombia's President, Juan Manuel Santos, insisted that Mexico must not let its guard down; to the contrary, it must continue the fight against drugs. President Santos' statements support the Mexican government's official position on the fight against drugs. Nevertheless, critics of the current strategy against organized crime point out that there are no positive results to speak of, since violence and general lack of safety continue to soar. Many argue that additional damages and the deaths of innocent Mexicans must be avoided. President Calderon indicated that he is concerned about Mexico's rampant lack of safety, yet he reaffirms that he will not back off from his government's current strategy. President Calderon has invited the public to propose new ideas to solve this problem. The only serious ideas that have been proposed come from former presidents Zedillo of Mexico, Cardoso of Brazil and Gaviria of Colombia. Such former presidents suggest that the government should legalize the possession of marijuana for personal consumption, and that it should adopt a "paradigm shift" in its approach to curbing illegal drug trafficking. Mexican author Enrique Krauze also supports their ideas. Moreover, the Mexican writers, Jorge Castaneda and Ruben Aguilar, make another serious proposal in their book entitled "The Druglord: A Failed War" ("El Narco: La Guerra Fallida"). In such book, the authors claim that everything is wrong with the war undertaken by Calderon. Such authors claim that curbing illegal drug trafficking boosts kidnapping, blackmail and human trafficking. In their view, common sense calls for a change in strategy in the fight against crime when the current strategy appears to have failed. Colombia appears to have succeeded in its fight against organized crime; however, data shows that the production, distribution and consumption of Colombian cocaine have not decreased. To the contrary, it has increased. This is the paradox that Mexicans have to contend with as they continue this ongoing debate.

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