Three former Latin American presidents call for a new strategy to combat drug trafficking and its consequences, violence and corruption

El Pais.Com - International - 03/26/2009

By José Miguel Larraya - Madrid

For decades, violence in Latin America was associated with armed insurrection and military repression against a communist revolution. Today, with former rebels in government offices, another ghost took the stage: armed violence associated to drug trafficking. A violence that fuels a multimillionaire industry, which projects insecurity and fear in large and small towns, and drains massive amounts of resources from states.

And what’s worst: far from receding, it is multiplying and threatens the stability of governments. Three former presidents from Latin America – Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brazil; César Gaviria of Colombia and Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico – have certified in a comprehensive document, the defeat of law enforcement authorities in their war against drugs. This does not mean they have raised the white flag against organized crime. They demand a new political and Police strategy that results from a broad social debate, to which they invite every social force on the continent. They also expose their data and arguments in the report “Drugs and democracy: toward a new Paradigm”, prepared by the Latin American Commission Drugs and Democracy, where highlighted 17 independent personalities debated and studied the issue. They demand a new approach with less emphasis on punishment/repression and more on health and education policy. They also include a recommendation – the decriminalization of possession of marijuana, which by its midiatic appela may overshadow a reflection of greater scope.

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