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News (Media Awareness Project) - Mexico: Latin American Leaders Assail Us Drug 'market'
Title:Mexico: Latin American Leaders Assail Us Drug 'market'
Published On:2011-12-22
Source:Denver Post (CO)
Fetched On:2011-12-23 06:03:25

MEXICO CITY - Latin American leaders have joined together to condemn
the U.S. government for soaring drug violence in their countries,
blaming the United States for the transnational cartels that have
grown rich and powerful smuggling dope north and guns south.

Alongside official declarations, Latin American governments have
expressed growing disgust for U.S. drug consumers - both the addict
and the weekend recreational user heedless to the misery and
destruction paid for their pleasures.

"Our region is seriously threatened by organized crime, but there is
very little responsibility taken by the drug-consuming countries,"
Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom said at a meeting this month of
Latin leaders in Caracas. Colom said the hemisphere was paying the
price for drug consumption in the United States with "our blood, our
fear and our human sacrifice."

With transit countries facing some of the highest homicide rates in
the world, so great is the frustration that the leaders are demanding
that the United States and Europe consider steps toward legalization
if they do not curb their appetite for drugs.

At a regional summit this month in Mexico, attended by the leaders of
11 Latin American and Caribbean countries, officials declared that
"the authorities in consumer countries should explore all possible
alternatives to eliminate exorbitant profits of criminals, including
regulatory or market options."

"Market options" is diplomatic code for decriminalization.

The complaints are not exactly new but are remarkable for being
nearly unanimous. The critique comes from sitting presidents left to
right, from persistent U.S. antagonists such as President Hugo Chavez
of Venezuela and from close U.S. allies such as President Juan Manuel
Santos of Colombia, which has received almost $9 billion in aid to
fight the cartels.

The criticism has been bolstered by opinion leaders in the region,
including the former presidents of Brazil, Colombia and Mexico, who
called for the legalization of marijuana and an overhaul of U.S.
thinking on the 40-year drug war, which has cost a trillion dollars
by some estimates but has done little to reduce supply and demand.

Senior Obama administration officials say the resentment is
understandable, that the production and transit countries are
shouldering more of the violence but that the rhetorical attacks
against the United States are misdirected.

"I refuse to accept that there has not been progress" in the fight
against drug trafficking and consumption, said William Brownfield,
assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of International
Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.
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