Monday, December 26, 2011

Fuentes Pessimistic about Mexican Politics, No Hope for Drug War Solution without U.S.

Marina Mendez Ransanz

In a recent BBC Mundo interview, noted Mexican writer and intellectual Carlos Fuentes discussed the current tumultuous political situation in Mexico. He showed a clear lack of enthusiasm for the candidates to the presidency, who will run in the incoming presidential elections of 2012.

Fuentes stated that the traditional parties in Mexico –PRI, PAN and PRD -- offer no solutions for the grave crisis affecting the country, and that their proposals to address the power of organized crime lack clarity and have attracted little public enthusiasm.

“The problems are too big, and the politics are too small,” the writer said with regard to the situation in Mexico.

Carlos Fuentes belongs to the Global Commission on Drug Policy, which is a group that includes several former presidents, including Fernando Henrique Cardoso from Brazil, César Gaviria from Colombia, and Ernesto Zedillo from Mexico, international leaders, intellectuals, and businessmen.

In a report published by the Commission last June, the Group warned about the failure of the war that has been waged against the drug cartels under the frame currently used by several governments, such as Mexico and the United States.

Fuentes expressed his disagreement with President Calderón’s drug war strategy, which is characterized by its apparent frontal attack against the cartels. But he credits Calderón for bringing the drug-trafficking and organized crime threats to the forefront of the political agenda.

Fuentes is a longtime advocate of drug legalization. By 2007 he had already proposed the legalization of drugs as a measure to reduce the violence caused by their distribution and the criminal activities surrounding this market. Illegal drugs should be legalized, he concluded, but for this to be effective will require joint action by the entire international community.

On numerous previous occasions, Fuentes has also observed that all efforts directed toward fighting drug trafficking in Mexico will be useless unless the United States addresses the demand for drugs in its territory.

In 2010, through a live chat with readers of the Spanish newspaper El Pais, Fuentes said that drugs are largely bought in the United States and it is there that decriminalization should begin. He expressed hope about the marijuana decriminalization initiative (defeated in 2010) in California, and was hopeful too that other states would follow the California example.

Fuentes, a prominent Mexican intellectual and internationally acclaimed novelist,
advocates for gradual policy reforms that will result in drug decriminalization. It’s a pragmatic and peaceful solution, which, he says, recognizes the reality of a large and long-lived demand for drugs in the U.S. market.

Fuentes believes that the scourge of drug-related violence in Mexico and the threat of the cartels to Mexican national security stand little chance of being resolved without more direct U.S. involvement.

He told BBC that eventually -- for both national and international reasons – the U.S. government will be obliged to take a more active role in addressing the criminal crisis in Mexico and to act together with the Mexican government to confront the power and violence of the drug-trafficking organizations.

Fuentes had choice words to describe the PRI and PRD presidential candidates, while observing that PAN, the party that currently holds Los Pinos, stands little chance of achieving electoral success given their perceived poor performance during the last two presidential terms.

The PAN was able to gain access to power in the year 2000 after more than 70 years of undisputed ruling by the PRI, and the Mexico’s population welcomed this transition great hope and high expectations.  Now, these past 11 years of PAN governments are widely regarded as a huge missed opportunity.

About Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the PRD candidate, Fuentes mentioned with some regret that he represents an outdated Left.

Enrique Peña Nieto, the current PRI candidate, was recently the protagonist of an embarrassing incident in the Guadalajara Book Fair when he was not able to mention 3 books that had made an impact on his life. Furthermore, while answering the question Peña Nieto misattributed a famous book written by Fuentes to Enrique Krauze, another Mexican writer.

Referring to Peña Nieto, Fuentes said that the PRI candidate has every right not to have read Fuentes’s books. However, the writer added “he has no right to be the president of Mexico out of ignorance.”

“Problems demand a man capable of talking to Obama, Angela Merkel or Sarkozy on the same level, and this is not the man capable to do so,” Fuentes said of Peña Nieto.

(Marina Mendez Ransanz is a Latin American Rights & Security intern at the Center for International Policy, working with the TransBorder Project)

Join Border Wars Policy Group to follow/discuss border security, immigrant imprisonment, and drug policy issues at: 

No comments: