"Legalization does not mean that drugs are good ... but we have to see (legalization of the production, sale and distribution of drugs) as a strategy to weaken and break the economic system that allows cartels to earn huge profits," Fox wrote in a posting over the weekend. "Radical prohibition strategies have never worked."
He might be referring to the US experience with Prohibition in the 1920s (let's hope because he caught a sneak peek of the new HBO drama Boardwalk Empire about liquor barons in Atlantic City during Prohibition).
But Fox has some work cut out for him when it comes to convincing current Mexican president Felipe Calderón to get on board with his ideas. Calderon recently called for an open debate on legalization, signaling a possible willingness to move to an even broader liberalization than already exists in Mexico. But Calderón remains publicly skeptical that full-on legalization would serve the broader good of weakening the drug trade's negative role in Mexican society:
'If you legalize, for example, the high price of drugs in the black market would go down, and that would reduce criminals' financial capacity, that may be right. But totally liberalizing the drug market, and even the price reduction itself, are two factors which will lead millions and millions of young people to use drugs,' Calderon said.
Fox's call follows the assertion by César Gaviria of Colombia, Fernando Cardoso of Brazil and Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico to legalize marijuana across Latin America.
I imagine that any proposal to legalize would lead to howling from American politicians, who do after all hold the purse strings on significant parts of the anti-drug budget. But it would interesting to see to what extent, given that there's growing recognition that the 40-year-old "War on Drugs" hasn't produced many results for all the invested time, treasure and lives.
The turning of elite public opinion may give Mexico and other countries the political cover to take the drug fight in a new direction.
Image Source: New York Post
Online Sources: Reuters, YouTube, HBO, Yahoo! News, Reuters, Wikipedia, The Guardian, Wall Street Journal