Friday, March 4, 2011

Calderón in DC

Fred Hiatt has the story from Calderón's visit to the Post:
Mexican President Felipe Calderon spoke mostly in excellent English during a visit to The Post on Thursday, but for one particular word he looked to his interpreter for help.

Since what he was looking for was "coherence" or "consistency" in U.S. policy, it's no wonder he was momentarily stumped. An hour-long conversation with the president, as polite as he was, brought home how badly that quality is missing from U.S. policy on drugs, guns, trade and democracy promotion, when viewed from south of the border.

Calderon was passionate when talking about the de facto legalization of marijuana that seems to be taking place in some states, such as California and Colorado, under the guise of medical treatment, with no federal interference.

"For me, it's very difficult to prosecute a very poor farmer in Mexico growing marijuana," he said, when "industrial"-scale agriculture is flourishing north of the border. "How can I console our widows" - Mexico has lost more than 2,000 police and federal agents the past four years fighting the drug cartels - "and at the same time students in universities can smoke pot with no problems?"


Either prosecute or "have the honesty" to legalize. "But what you cannot do is have this incoherent policy, because it causes terrible damage."
Many US policies are indeed lacking in congruencia (see previous post), and Calderón is certainly right to call them on it, but I think he's overstating the impact of this specific hypocrisy (as opposed to say, the broader insanity of marijuana prohibition, when I could drink myself to death with a bottle or two of whiskey in the next couple of hours without breaking the law). How exactly the prosecution of 19-year-olds for marijuana possession would make Mexico safer is completely lost to me.

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