Drug War 40

The global war as seen from the center of North America

An idea whose time has come

From the newsletter of city Rep. Beto O’Rourke:


There were a number of developments this week that, when taken together, make me think that we’re finally going to make some progress on the most fundamental causes of the violence in Juarez: drug demand and drug prohibition.

First, a number of El Pasoans have come together around a statement that offers several clear-cut proposals to help stem the violence, including: explicitly linking drug use in the U.S. to drug terror in
Juarez (you buy drugs here, you’re helping to kill someone in Juarez); ending the disastrous prohibition of marijuana (which contributes nearly $8-9 billion into the coffers of the cartels annually); and focusing U.S. foreign aid on critical social, educational and economic infrastructure. The statement is timed to coincide with President Calderon’s visit to Washington D.C. and the state dinner that will be hosted in his honor at the White House. There will be a press conference Monday at 1pm at Lion’s Placita near the Paso del Norte Bridge. I’ve posted the press release further down in this newsletter.

The full statement is also posted on the Drug War 40 website (https://drugwar40.wordpress.com/) and you can sign a petition in support of the statement by clicking here.

Second, one of the most damning and comprehensive articles on the failure of the drug war was published throughout the world yesterday. The AP article, titled “US drug war has met none of its goals”, uses clear metrics (expressed in dollars spent, lives lost, availability and use of drugs, etc.) to describe what a catastrophe our War on Drugs has been so far. The opening paragraph:

After 40 years, the United States’ war on drugs has cost $1 trillion and hundreds of thousands of lives, and for what? Drug use is rampant and violence even more brutal and widespread.

* Read the full article by clicking here.

Third, the White House has announced a new drug war strategy. It is deeply flawed; it does not get to the fundamental problems with the war on drugs; but it is a small, incremental step towards a better policy. It talks about demand reduction (reducing teen use by 15%), it increases funding for rehabilitation and recovery, but its primary focus is still interdiction and imprisonment.

But, taken with the stunning, widely circulated AP story, the building national consensus that drug consumption and prohibition in the U.S. are causing terrible damage in our country and in Mexico, and the leadership we are seeing throughout our community in demanding a solution to the violence in Juarez, I think we’re on the brink of significant change. The administration’s attempt to save 40 years of face and position itself to ride the wave that just might be coming in tells me that we’re close to proving Victor Hugo right.


Filed under: Analysis, News, opinion

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