Friday, February 13, 2009

THREE FORMER LATIN AMERICAN PRESIDENTS CALL FOR END OF DRUG PROHIBITION POLICIES

Sign on San Diego - The war against drugs is failing and the U.S. government should break with "prohibition" policies that have achieved little more than cram its prisons and stoke violence, three former Latin American presidents said on Wednsday.

The respected former presidents urged the United States and Latin American governments to move away from jailing drug users to debate the legalization of marijuana and place more emphasis on the treatment of addicts.

Former Colombian President Cesar Gaviria said there was no meaningful debate over drugs policy in the United States, despite a broad consensus that current policies had failed.

"The problem today in the U.S. is that narco-trafficking is a crime and so any politician is fearful of talking about narco-trafficking or talking about policies because they will be called soft," he said.

Gaviria has joined with former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso and former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo to try to change the debate on drugs in Latin America, where trafficking gangs have killed tens of thousands of people and weakened democracies through corruption. . .

The presidents' commission released a report calling on governments to refocus policies toward treating users, move toward decriminalizing marijuana, and invest more in education campaigns. It said current policies were rooted in "prejudices, fears and ideological visions" that inhibited debate. . .

Organized crime has flourished around drugs and is now threatening the stability of Mexico, where a spiraling war between rival gangs killed more than 5,700 people last year.

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