A Paradigm Shift in the "War on Drugs"

The Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy recently issued a report titled "Drugs and Democracy: Toward a Paradigm Shift." As the title suggests, the committee, made up by the former presidents of Colombia, Mexico and Brazil and 14 others, denounced the "drug war" as a failed endeavor that focuses on the wrong objectives.

Laura Carlsen from Americas MexicoBlog gives an overview and some analysis of the report, as well as thoughts on Obama's actions.

The goal of the commission report is to build a united Latin American platform on drug policy. When asked if they thought they could accomplish that by the time the Vienna conference is slated to reach an agreement on a new 10-year UN policy, Commission members noted that only the Colombian government has explicitly balked at the proposed paradigm shift.

But it also targets its message to the U.S. government, which in the past has tried to impose the drug war model on its Latin American allies:

"[The U.S.] policy of massive incarceration of drug users, questionable both in terms of respect for human rights and its efficiency, is hardly applicable to Latin America, given the penal system's overpopulation and material conditions. This repressive policy also facilitates consumer extortion and police corruption. The United States allocates a much larger proportion of resources to eradication and interdiction as well as to maintaining its legal and penal system than to investments in health, prevention, treatment and the rehabilitation of drug users."

The Commission's message coming at this time reflects the hope that the Obama administration will have a more open attitude toward re-evaluating the failed policies.
Read the entire report here.
And read Carlsen's article here.

Image: Coca Leaves in Bolivia, stopthedrugwar.org
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  1. Anonymous9:21 PM

    This is promising! It's easy to forget that these policies do change, and the U.S. approach to drugs is way off the mark - and has been since the 1960s. The only tough thing is that Obama has so much on his plate already, one has to wonder if he will even consider the War on Drugs as something to change.

  2. Hmm, if this foreign aid summary is on the money, I find it harder to believe the Colombian president is siding with anything but the money, as Colombia was reportedly awarded $558 million in 2006 for drug abatement: http://www.vaughns-1-pagers.com/politics/us-foreign-aid.htm


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