Mexico looks to legalisation as drug war murders hit 28,000


Jo Tuckman
London Guardian
August 4, 2010

Mexico’s president, Felipe CalderĂłn, has joined calls for a debate on the legalisation of drugs as new figures show thousands of Mexicans every year being slaughtered in cartel wars.

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“It is a fundamental debate,” the president said, belying his traditional reluctance to accept any questioning of the military-focused offensive against the country’s drug cartels that he launched in late 2006. “You have to analyse carefully the pros and cons and key arguments on both sides.” The president said he personally opposes the idea of legalisation.

CalderĂłn’s new openness comes amid tremendous pressure to justify a strategy that has been accompanied by the spiralling of horrific violence around the country as the cartels fight each other and the government crack down. Official figures released this week put the number of drug war related murders at 28,000.

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Until recently the government regularly played down the general impact of the violence by claiming that 90% of the victims were associated with the cartels, with the remainder largely from the security forces. In recent months it has started to acknowledge a growing number of “civilian victims” ranging from toddlers caught in the cross fire to students massacred at parties.

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