New at Cato Unbound: Jorge Castañeda on the War on Drugs in Mexico

Check out the hot-off-the-Wordpress lead essay for the new edition of Cato Unbound by former Mexican Secretary of Foreign Affairs Jorge Castañeda. Here’s his gist:

In his lead essay, Jorge Castañeda observes that the consequences of the U.S. drug war fall unevenly on Mexico. The U.S. taste for drugs — and for prohibition — are the chief causes of drug-related crime in Mexico, he asserts. This creates a problem that Mexico cannot solve on its own. U.S. assistance has been insufficient, and Mexican resources are too few to take on the drug cartels effectively. Even if the resources were available, the militarization of life in Mexico would be politically unacceptable to most Mexicans, who have enjoyed a relatively tranquil military in contrast to many other Latin American countries. Another approach to the war on drugs would simply be decriminalization, but again, Mexico cannot unilaterally decriminalize, because it would face severe diplomatic consequences from the United States and possibly become a refuge for addicts. The United States must lead the way toward solving this problem, which is of its own making.

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9 thoughts on “New at Cato Unbound: Jorge Castañeda on the War on Drugs in Mexico

  1. If one imagines the political and cultural factors on both sides of the border it would seem that the policy that Sr. Castaneda advocates is not in fact the one representing the smoothest transition to a more comfortable homeostasis. In the US we do not have de facto drug consumption acceptance except if you specify 'in some subcultures.' An important police bulwark against extension of drug use is our laws against possession. President Obama needn't read the weather to tell you which way the wind blows. One almost might see the fight against the cartels in Mexico by Calderon as a defiance of regulatory capture (by the cartels). It seems to me this might be followed by decriminalizing possession of all (excepting large quantities?) of major drugs of abuse. That would take supplying the US to some extent out of the hands of the cartels. Cost would drop in the US somewhat but the use could still be kept to what subcultures continue to be politically allowed. What pray tell does Sr. Calderon see that the big bad wolf of the north would do about such a Mexican move.

  2. Yeah, normally I hesitate to subscribe to the “US policy is the cause of this problem in country X” because it often seem as if America has been granted supernatural powers of involvement, but in this case, it really is our policy driving what is truly a pretty nasty situation.Though I think that perhaps I think this argument is too strong:”Another approach to the war on drugs would simply be decriminalization, but again, Mexico cannot unilaterally decriminalize, because it would face severe diplomatic consequences from the United States ” Sure, the US government would send lots of sternly worded telegrams — but what are we likely to actually do? Impose sanctions? Seal the border? Standing up to the US's silly drug policies sure seems to be popular in other countries in South America.'m not sure that “become a haven for addicts” (I assume he means American addicts) is even that likely, because even if drug prices dropped quite a bit, how would they support their habits in Mexico unless they had quite a bit of factors to smooth their way: knowing Spanish, willing to get a job there, etc… There are already places pot addicts could go where it is relatively legal, but very few do so permanently because they would have difficulty fitting in to, for example, the Netherlands. People (such as from Britain) go there for drug tourism, but then, I don't think Mexico would mind more tourist dollars.

  3. Mexico cannot unilaterally decriminalize, because it would face severe diplomatic consequences from the United States and possibly become a refuge for addicts.I agree with Brian: this seems overblown. I very seriously doubt that the consequences of decriminalization would be more severe than the current violence, even if they weren't entirely negligible.

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