Mexican President Felipe Calderón called for a “new phase” in confronting organized crime in his country during which he would consider debate on the legalization of drugs.
With the homicide rate climbing to nearly 28,000 each year, he said that Mexico needs a more profound intervention with concrete commitments.
Though he opposes the idea of legalizing drugs, he said he’d be interested in further investigation.
“Any action taken in this area in the international arena and, particularly in the United States, will have repercussions in Mexico, which always forces one to do an analysis,” Calderón said.
On one hand, the head of state said, legalization would reduce an important income stream for organized crime, but on the other, it puts many generations of young people at risk, as legalization could imply greater availability at lower prices.
The fact that Mexico is also a transit country for drugs headed to the U.S., the world’s largest drug consumer, would make any move taken by Mexico inconsequential, Calderón said, and “lead us to pay all the negative consequences and receive few, or none, of the benefits.”
The call for drug legalization has been around for years among Latin American states, as countries such as Mexico, Costa Rica and Panama bear the brunt of the negative effects of the drug trade. Many Central American leaders argue that legalizing drugs would eliminate demand on the black market, helping shut down the cartels and gangs that have plagued their countries in recent decades.
Speaking at a nationwide conference on security issues this week, Calderón said, “Today, more than any other time, the fight for the security of Mexicans is a cause that no one can ignore. It’s necessary to put Mexico’s interests ahead of any other consideration.”