Mexico Ex-President Fox Calls for Drug Legalization

Former Mexican President Vicente Fox said his country should legalize the production and sale of drugs in order to curb rising cartel-related violence.

Legalizing narcotics would curtail funding to organized crime groups, who are using profits from the drug trade to consolidate power, Fox wrote yesterday on his personal website.

“Radical prohibition strategies have never worked,” Fox said. “The cost of the fight against organized crime, and in particular narcotics trafficking, has been enormous in our country.”

The drug war has killed 28,000 people in Mexico since late 2006, when President Felipe Calderon entered office vowing to take on the cartels, according to data from the government intelligence agency, known as CISEN. That’s keeping tourists away and limiting foreign direct investment, Fox said.

Fox said in a July 28 interview with Bloomberg Television that the U.S. as well as Mexico were responsible for the violence.

“What is happening is that this huge market of the United States in drug consumption, the largest in the world, is generating the weapons that are sold to Mexican cartels, and is generating the money that is laundered in the United States and brought to Mexico,” Fox said.

Arms Trafficking

More than 90 percent of weapons used in violent crimes in Mexico are brought in illegally from the U.S., according to the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives.

President Barack Obama vowed during a visit to Mexico last year that the U.S. would take more aggressive steps to help the country battle drug cartels by urging the Senate to ratify a decade-old treaty on arms trafficking in Latin America.

Calderon, a member of Fox’s National Action Party, said last week that he was open to debate on the legalization issue, even as he said he was personally opposed to the idea because it represented a health risk to society.

Legalization measures have worked in other countries, which use new taxes on the products to finance addiction recovery programs, Fox said.

In 2009, Mexico decriminalized possession of small amounts of drugs including marijuana, cocaine and heroin.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jonathan J. Levin in Mexico City at Jlevin20@bloomberg.net; Jens Erik Gould in Mexico City at jgould9@bloomberg.net

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