Their is a spirited debate taking place now in the U.S. Congress over what has been termed The Merida Initiative, a big chunk of money, maybe $500 million, that the U.S. would appropriate to Mexico for the purpose of military and law enforcement training and equipment, as well as some technical advice. This is proposed as the first installment on a $1.4 billion total package. The timing is fortuitous for those who favor it, as the past few months has seen a sharp upturn in drug-related violence in Mexico. The opponents to the measure on the U.S. side cite the notorious black hole that money seems to fall in once it lands in another country, siphoned off by a long list of government beaurocrats. The hypocrosy of this reasoning, although possibly true, by politicians who haven’t had the juevos to call for an accounting of the billions of dollars that have disappeared in Iraq is not lost on those who pay attention. The opponents to the measure in Mexico, besides the drug cartels, fear a sovereignty issue, with the U.S. calling the shots in their country. This is not an unreasonable fear given past history.
I would like to propose another view, shared by many on the left, and some on the right (the Libertarian Right). As of now, the Mexican government is out-gunned by the cartels, who are also more economically solvent. More weapons and helicopters from the U.S. might help a little at first, but it will certainly lead to more violence and many more deaths. The war would eventually escalate with no end in sight. Tourism, a huge money generator, would be greatly affected.
The United States had a similar situation during the years of Prohibition. People wanted booze, which was illegal, so they got it from the gangsters (cartels?) who had it. The period of Prohibition, from 1920 – 1933 has become known as the Roaring Twenties, the age of Al Capone and other notorious psychopaths. FDR, a wise man, repealed the law, and crime in America was instantly reduced. It is now time for our leaders to consider a similar repeal of our drug laws, legalizing and controlling the street drugs that millions of Americans are going to use no matter who supplies the product. This would have an instant and huge effect in the U.S. and Mexico. Our prisons are filled with users and small-time dealers, at a cost of $30,000 per year per inmate. That money would be much better spent on rehab and education.
The Rand Corporation has produced a study that shows that education and rehabilitation are 10 times more effective with drug users than is incarceration. The 50-year War on Drugs has failed. Totally and undeniably. It is time to try another method. Do you want proof that education works? Just look at cigarette use in the U.S. for the past 30 years. Tobacco is a legal (and very addictive) drug, yet users have declined enormously by educating the public as to the harm done to the body when inhaling tobacco. Does anyone really believe that if cocaine and weed became legal with controlled sales that the usage would become rampant? Not likely.
How the legalization of pot and coke would shut down the Mexico drug cartels is too obvious to discuss. It is simple economics. Take the obscene profit out of recreational drugs and the bad guys will quit dealing. Maybe they would switch career paths to other profitable ventures like, I don’t know, politics and white-collar crime.