|Photo: Brian Kersey/UPI|
|Former Mexican President Vicente Fox: “We should consider legalizing the production, distribution and sale of drugs”|
Former Mexican President Vicente Fox is joining the chorus of those urging his successor, President Felipe Calderon, to legalize drugs in Mexico, saying that could could help break the economic power of the country’s illegal drug cartels.
The comments, posted Sunday on Fox’s blog, came less than a week after Calderon agreed to open the door to discussions about the legalization of drugs. Calderon, however, stressed that he remained opposed to the idea, reports E. Eduardo Castillo of The Associated Press.
“We should consider legalizing the production, distribution and sale of drugs,” said Fox, who served as president from 2000 to 2006 and is a member of President Calderon’s conservative National Action Party. “Radical prohibition strategies have never worked.”
“Legalizing in this sense does not mean drugs are good and don’t harm those who consume then,” he wrote. “Rather we should look at it as a strategy to strike at and break the economic structure that allows gangs to generate huge profits in their trade, which feeds corruption and increases their areas of power.”
According to Fox, the government could tax legalized drug sales to finance programs for reducing addiction and rehabilitating users.
Fox, who left office with low approval ratings, came under criticism for starting an anti-cartel crackdown aimed at arresting the gangs’ leaders.
The approach led to power vacuums that fed brutal fighting among rival cartels, bringing violence that has killed more than 28,000 people since Calderon took office.
Drug violence has damaged “the perception and image of the country, and economic activity, particularly in tourism and foreign investment,” Fox said.
Mexico already eliminated jail time for possessing small amounts of marijuana, cocaine, heroin, LSD and methamphetamine in 2009, giving it some of the world’s most liberal drug laws.
Several Latin American countries have decriminalized possession of small amounts of drugs for personal use, but legalization has been slower in coming.
In his blog, Fox harshly criticized widespread drug violence. “The first responsibility of a government is to provide security for the people and their possessions… today, we find that, unfortunately, the Mexican government is not complying with that responsibility.”