Hispanic leaders in Latin America are saying that the War on Drugs is a failure and they are calling for more liberalized tactics. President Otto Perez Molina of Guatemala says a new approach is needed urgently. The leaders will meet in a summit attended by US President Obama and they are already admitting that the drug war is a gross failure and that other alternatives must be found to stop the drug trade. The meeting is the Summit of the Americas and it will be held in Cartagena, Colombia.
President Molina wants a new regional security plan employed in Latin America. He says the drug war is based on a “false premise.” That false premise according to Molina is that the “global drug markets can be eradicated.” Molina wants a new dialogue on the issue and a “realistic approach to drug regulation.” He is advocating drug legalization under certain limits and conditions and that drugs be regulated like alcohol. His comments reflect that Latin American leaders are changing their positions on the drug war following years of killing in which hundreds of thousands of Hispanics have been killed.
Molina is not the only Latin American leader calling for a new dialogue and a more realistic approach to the drug war. Mexico’s el Presidente Felipe Calderon is also calling for a national debate on the drug war issue. Further, Colombia’s former president Juan Manuel Santos has said that if legalizing drugs helps to curtail the power of organized crime in Latin American gangs he would welcome it if others think it would be a better solution.
The summit will be the first time in 40 years Latin American leaders have met to discuss the war on drugs and its obvious failure. As for the US, President Obama is not wanting to give his election opponents any reason to attack him on this issue so it is doubtful he will support the drug legalization proposal of Latin American leaders. It would be seen as too controversial and it would give GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney plenty of reason to attack Obama. US Vice President Joe Biden has actually said that there needs to be a new debate on the issue about legalizing drugs.
The former president of Brazil and Chairman of the Global Commission on Drug Police, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, says that it is time for a new debate on the issue and that a “more humane and efficient” drug policy needs to be put into place. That view is also being shared by former US Secretary George Shultz who served under President Carter.
Colombian Presidente Molina has actually posted a commentary at The Guardian which you can read at the website below. Molina is the former head of Guatemala’s intelligence service. In his commentary Molina speaks of how he was instrumental in the arrest of a major drug lord who was then sent to Mexico to face trial. However, the “Capo” escaped from a high security prison and is today listed as one of the 10 richest men in Mexico and the world! Molina identifies this drug lord as Joaquin who is better known by his nickname “Chapo” Guzman who heads the Sinaloa drug cartel.
Molina goes on to say that since he’s been el presidente for the past 3 months he’s discovered that the justice and security systems are not what they were 20 years ago when he served in the intelligence community. He says in his commentary that he began to ask questions wondering why drug consumption is higher and production is greater than ever despite the alleged war on drugs. This is true and apparently the war on drugs is having very little real effect on drug trafficking, production, and consumption.
Molina calls the whole situation a “confusing scenario.” Molina is proud of what his people and government have done in the drug war. In fact, several high profile drug lords have been arrested in Guatemala including Walther Overdick who is the main contact of the Zetas drug cartel in Guatemala. Molina says this track record is one his people can be proud of and that his nation is not a failed state but “just a small territory that happens to find itself geographically between the largest drug consumption markets and the largest drug producers.” He says that despite this fact there are many people inside his nation who CANNOT be bought off by the cartels or corrupted.
Continuing in his commentary, Presidente Molina says that despite decades of major arrests and drug seizures, consumption and production of drugs is “booming.” He points out that when one drug falls in consumption another drug quickly rises in consumption. He also points out that the destruction of drug production in one area is quickly replaced by an increase of production in another area to replace it. It is an unending battle that is apparently going nowhere as Molina claims. Molina says that not only is drug consumption increasing but so are the incentives for drug production and that it is all a “frustrating fact.”
Molina says we need to focus on facts when it comes to the drug war and not on ideological lenses. He says that when viewed through realistic lenses it becomes apparent that drug consumption is a “public health issue that, awkwardly, has been transformed into a criminal justice problem.” Molina says everyone agrees that drugs are bad for human health and that we have to concentrate on impeding drug consumption like we “combat alcoholism and tobacco addiction.” He goes on to say that just knowing drugs are bad is “not a compelling reason for advocating” drug prohibition. He points out that such prohibition is based on a false premise that is not working and that false premise is that the drug market can somehow be eliminated. He questions that premise because we would not apply the same premise to tobacco or alcohol consumption.
Molina says that moving beyond prohibition would be “tricky territory.” He says that “liberalization” of drugs that allows for consumption, production, and trafficking of drugs without any restrictions would be “profoundly irresponsible.” In fact he says such a notion would be “absurd.” He asks, “If we accept regulations for alcohol and tobacco, why should we allow drugs to be consumed and produced without any restrictions?” Molina is proposing governments abandon the ideological lenses and put on realistic lenses to view the problem and come up with solutions that are actually workable and effective. He is also calling for realistic dialogue on the issue. Further, Molina says drug consumption and production SHOULD BE legalized and regulated. He points out this would NOT mean liberalization without controls being in place.
Presidente Molina says in his commentary that several realistic questions should be addressed in this new dialogue he’s calling for. Among those questions are asking how violence associated with drug abuse can be diminished, how can public health be strengthened, how can we provide economic and social opportunities for families and communities that benefit from drug production and trafficking, and what regulations should be put into place if drugs are legalized.
Latin American leaders along with Obama are to meet this coming weekend in Cartagena for the summit and Molina says it is an opportunity to begin “realistic and responsible intergovernmental dialogue” on this issue. Molina goes on to assure the world that Guatemala will not fail to honor its commitments to the international community but it is not willing to “continue as dumb witnesses to global self deceit.” He says the global drug markets CANNOT be eliminated but they CAN be regulated. Further, he believes drug abuse, alcoholism, and tobacco should be treated as public health problems and NOT as criminal justice issues. In concluding his commentary, Molina says, “Our children and grandchildren demand from us a more effective drug policy, not a more ideological response.”
So what this comes down to is we have a growing number of Latin American leaders wishing to legalize and regulate drug consumption, production, and trafficking because, in their opinion, the drug war is a failed operation and the global market for drugs is now so big that it cannot be shut down. Further, they are wanting drugs treated as a public health issue instead of a criminal justice issue. Latin American leaders are now wanting REALISTIC discussion and solutions because they’ve had enough of the ideological bits.
In my opinion I have to agree with Presidente Molina. The war on drugs is a failed war! In fact, it is a war that is not going to be one in any terms unless we abandon the failed ideology and start viewing it realistically. Where there is a market there are producers and runners and when it comes to global drug consumption the market is HUGE. In contrast, where there is no market, there is no production or supply running. I don’t see the later happening anytime soon realistically. Short of putting the entire human global population in jail I don’t really see any way of eliminating the drug business and putting 7 billion people in jail is nowhere near being realistic! So, as Molina and other Latin American leaders are now saying, we need to come up with other solutions and we must do that by beginning with realistic dialogue and answering the questions Molina asks in his commentary. Drugs are big business and that’s a fact! Drug consumption is widespread globally and that’s a fact! The drug producers are simply supplying that huge market and that is also a fact! Trillions of dollars have been put into the war on drugs and to no avail because the drug business has actually grown bigger than ever before. That also is a FACT! Continuing to hold to an ideology that obviously is not working is ignorant and wasteful in terms of monetary resources. That old ideology of eliminating it all is not working and it is not going to work. I agree with Molina in terms that we need to start having some realistic dialogue about the issue and we need to come up with some viable solutions that actually WORK. If we don’t then we will continue to waste money and resources on this FAILED war on drugs! What good is that going to do anyone? We simply end up doing as we are doing now and that is spinning our wheels. And as for Barack Obama and his bid for re-election, I think voters would have MORE respect for him IF he took a position on something instead of his continued wishy-washy game. I think most people realize the war on drugs is failed and Obama SHOULD BE taking the lead on this issue. He just might get his re-election if he did because he just might gain some respect from voters across the board.
The bottomline is this. People are sick and tired of seeing innocent people killed like the many taxi drivers that were killed today in Monterrey, Mexico by the drug cartels. People are sick of paying taxes that are being dished out to a WORTHLESS and obviously FAILED operation (ie: War on Drugs). People want solutions that WORK! Realistic solutions, not ideological ones!! Perhaps it is time to consider what Presidente Molina is suggesting. Maybe it’s time to consider legalizing drugs WITH regulations and also to TAX THEM. It certainly is a dialogue we need to have because there is certainly nothing wrong with having a discussion. There IS, however, something wrong with ignoring the issue and pretending like it does not exist or is not growing worse.