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Former Latin American Leaders Call for Legalization Debate

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The former presidents of Colombia, Brazil and Mexico declared the war on drugs a failure and called for a meaningful debate on alternatives, including more treatment for drug users and legalization, Reuters reported Feb. 11.

Drug prohibition has led to increased violence and crowded prisons but has failed to stem trafficking.

“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,” said former Colombian President Cesar Gaviria, who joined with former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso and former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo under the umbrella of the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy to call for a serious, international discussion on alternative anti-drug policies.

The United Nations is poised to hold meetings to draft a new drug policy for the next decade. The presidents’ group called for a focus on treating users, decriminalizing marijuana, and investing in drug education.

“It will be almost impossible to solve Mexico’s problems and other countries’ problems without a more ample, comprehensive set of policies from the U.S. government,” Cardoso said. 

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