The CSS Blog Network

Three Strikes Against the Drug War

Drugs

Drugs, Colombia, 2010. Photo: Galería de ► Bee, like bees! <3/flickr.

MEXICO CITY – The last two months have witnessed more far-reaching changes on the drug-policy scene in Latin America and the United States than in all previous decades combined. Three fundamental shifts have occurred, each of which would be important on its own; taken together, they may be a game-changer that finally ends the hemisphere’s failed war on drugs.

First and foremost were the referenda on marijuana legalization in the US states of Colorado and Washington on November 6. For the first time, voters in the country that is the world’s largest consumer of illicit drugs in general, and marijuana in particular, approved propositions legalizing possession, production, and distribution of cannabis – and by relatively broad margins.

While a similar initiative failed in Oregon, and Proposition 19 (which called for limited legalization of cannabis) was defeated in California in 2010 (by seven percentage points), the outcome in Colorado and Washington sent a powerful message to the rest of the US. The results have not only created a conflict between US federal law and state legislation, but also signal a shift in attitudes not dissimilar to that concerning same-sex marriage. » More

Mexico, USA: Who Will Pay the Price for Wal-Mart’s Corruption?

President Calderon with Walmart CEO

President Calderon (right) met with Walmart CEO Michael T. Duke in Cartagena, Colombia in April 2012 and his office issued a statement and this photo.

There have been better times to be associated with Wal-Mart. In 2011, for example, it was named in the top 10 most transparent corporations in Mexico [ES]. Yet one of the world’s largest corporations is taking a hit after evidence surfaced that their Mexican subsidiary paid US$24 million in bribes to Mexican officials between 2002 and 2005. According to an investigation by the New York Times, Wal-Mart has kept this information quiet since 2005, when a former employee in Mexico blew the whistle. Taking every opportunity to call out bad practices at the company, Wal-Mart reform advocacy and employee groups jumped on the scandal, calling on Wal-Mart’s CEO to resign in an online petition started by Organization United for Respect at Wal-Mart (Our Wal-Mart) on Change.org. » More

Winds of Change Reaching Mexico’s Drug Policy?

Image: courtesy of Bulls Press

The ISN’s Editorial Plan coverage of increased global interdependence provides an opportunity to take a look at the Mexican drug cartels and their security threat beyond the country’s borders. Only last month, Mexican marines arrested five suspected members of Los Zetas, one of the two most powerful and dangerous cartels that dominate the Mexican drug war. However, enthusiasm about this remains dampened since success in capturing or killing high-ranked drug traffickers hasn’t had any effect on the level of violence in the country.

When President Felipe Calderon took office in 2006, he announced an aggressive military–led strategy against the drug cartels, totally in line with the American declared “war on drugs”. The extensive use of military forces to support the weak police system has however caused a rise in the number of reported human rights violations committed by the army and led to an increasingly violent war, which has resulted in an estimated 45,000 of deaths since 2006.

Many Mexicans have come to believe that Calderon has lost the fight against the cartels. The consequences of this are tremendous for the Mexican society and state. But as we now, transnational organized crime has also broader effects across countries. The United State particularly suffers from the increased power of the drug cartels in Mexico. A weakened Mexican state facilitates not only the flow of drugs, but also of weapons, money and illegal immigrants, which makes it more difficult for the US to control the border. » More

Mexico: The Absurd Theater of War

The Peace Gun

The Peace Gun, photo: Gary Denness/flickr

In warfare the term “theater” is used for the specific area where war is taking place. In Mexico “theater of the absurd” could be used for the strange and incongruous aspects that the drug war has introduced in people’s lives.

At the beginning of January 2011 the Heidelberg Institute for International Conflict Research published its yearly assessment and rated Mexico as one of the world’s six most violent nations. Judging by the conflict barometer’s criteria, Mexico is indeed a country at war. In 2010 the situation worsened considerably: There were more than 12,000 drug-related killings and Monterrey, Mexico’s wealthiest city, also succumbed to the drug war.

But does the conflict level in Mexico feel like the one reported in Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq or Sudan? It actually does not. It is as if the war is a game of hide-and-seek with the country’s citizens. It is going on “behind” open eyes: Constantly present – in low-income neighborhoods, suburbs or on highways leading North – yet when one turns round, there are only traces to be seen. The effects of this latent violence are bitter and its psychological consequences profound. » More

Mexico, New Perspectives

Keep your promises and make them true, Photo: Jonas Rey

Mexico is a country that has been in the news a lot recently, especially because if its tragic war on drugs. But it is also the host country for this year’s World Youth Conference; an event that tries to shape global youth policy past 2015 and the deadline of the Millennium Development Goals.

Considering that almost 50 percent of the world population is composed of young people and children, this conference is crucial for shaping the future lifeline of society, particularly as young people are most affected by poverty. Unfortunately, this conference and this topic is not being taken seriously by a large majority of countries, especially in Europe. And so far, the conference has not been covered by western media.

This lack of interest for youth policy is clearly problematic. As the World Bank reports, better youth policies increases the GDP of a country significantly over the long term. It also helps to create a more stable and safe society.

In the aftermath of the financial crisis, why have governments, and especially western governments, not started to address the problems of the generation that is and will be most affected by the crisis? As the ILO reports, the current generation of young people threatens to become a lost one, due to high unemployment rates and a lack of appropriate policy responses from governments. » More

Page 2 of 4