Pubdate: Wed, 21 Mar 2001
Source: Edmonton Journal (CN AB)
Copyright: 2001 The Edmonton Journal
Contact:  P.O. Box 2421, Edmonton, AB, T5J 2S6
Author: Mike Trickey


Fox Comments Follow Pledge By Uruguayan President

A discussion on the legalization of drugs as the only realistic way to 
break the international cartels getting rich off illicit trafficking is 
inching closer to the agenda of the Quebec Summit of the Americas next month.

Mexican President Vicente Fox has made waves by agreeing with statements by 
his top police officials that legalization is the only way to win the war 
on drugs.

His comments follow a pledge earlier this month by Uruguayan President 
Jorge Batlle Ibanez to raise the question of the legalization at the April 
20-22 summit which is bringing together 34 hemispheric heads of state and 

Fox crossed the line Latin leaders traditionally do not tread when he 
speculated in weekend interviews with two Mexican newspapers that the only 
way to win the war against drugs was by legalizing them and, thereby, 
eliminating the profit motive and violence that goes with illegal trafficking.

"That's right, that's true, that's true," Fox told the newspaper Unomasuno 
when asked if he agreed with the assessment of a senior police official who 
supports the legalization route.

However, Fox said Mexico would not and could not act unilaterally and that 
he did not expect any such international action to be coming soon.

"When the day comes that it is time to adopt the alternative of lifting 
punishment for consumption of drugs, it would have to come all over the 
world," he was quoted by El Sol de Mexico. "Humanity some day will see that 
it is best in that sense."

Latin leaders have made similar observations in the past, but they usually 
wait until after they are out of office for fear of economic reprisal by 
the United States, which has taken a zero-tolerance position against drug 
use, trafficking and production.

But in a live Internet discussion with the Washington Post last week, 
Uruguay's Batlle said he will attempt to open debate on legalization of drugs.

"Imagine the money you spend to impede drug traffic and imagine that huge 
amount of resources on education for the people who really need help," he 
said, adding that Uruguay has not experienced any backlash from the U.S. 
for his drug position.

Batlle said the best way to address the ongoing civil war in Colombia would 
be to legalize drugs and admit Colombia into NAFTA.

Officials at the Mexican Embassy in Ottawa said Fox is not advocating 
legalization of drugs nor is Mexico going to attempt to bring the topic to 
the Quebec summit agenda.
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