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April 20, 2009

"America Should Decriminalize Drugs"

According to this piece at The Daily Beast, the title of this post is "what César Gaviria, the former president of Colombia, tells the Daily Beast in an exclusive interview following Obama's visit to Latin America."  Here is more from the piece:

[E]nforcements efforts are important, but when it comes to diluting the demand for drugs, the U.S. is missing the point, says the former President of Colombia, César Gaviria, in an exclusive interview with The Daily Beast.  A central player in the 1990s drug wars, Gaviria was the leader of a country that supplied the bulk of the planet’s cocaine.  Now, he believes the best way to break the world’s thirst for drugs is to decriminalize them — not just the “soft” ones, but all of them....

Gaviria has lived the drug war first-hand, and says fighting it was “a very frustrating experience.” He believes “it is a failure because there are hundreds of thousands of people jailed, while consumption remains basically unchanged in the U.S. and is growing significantly in Europe.”  He also points out that it has been “a source of indiscriminate violence and corruption in Latin America, and is weakening our democratic institutions.”

For the 62-year-old Gaviria, the former Secretary General of the Organization of American States, to call for such a radical change as decriminalization is groundbreaking.  As president of Colombia from 1990 to 1994, he battled the cartels during some of that country’s most violent years. He led the crackdown that would ultimately bring down the powerful Medellín Cartel and its infamous leader, Pablo Escobar.  “The fight against the drug cartels is unavoidable,” Gaviria says.  “If you don’t do it, they become too powerful and may even pose a military threat, as we saw in Colombia. But that does not mean that such efforts reduce the flow of drugs.”

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April 20, 2009 at 09:40 AM | Permalink

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