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Drug War Is No Failure, Insists Janet Napolitano

The US Secretary of Homeland Security tries to dissuade Latin American leaders from pursuing drug decriminalization.

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Napolitano says Latin America should not
turn to decriminalization. Photo via

By Bryan Le

02/28/12

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The huge human toll of the War on Drugs—47,000 deaths in Mexico and many others in Honduras, for example, which has the highest homicide rate in the world—has some Latin American leaders debating the decriminalization of narcotics. But US Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano insists that would be a bad move. “I would not agree with the premise that the drug war is a failure,” she asserts. “It is a continuing effort to keep our peoples from becoming addicted to dangerous drugs.” US and Mexican forces continue their hunt for Joaquin “Shorty” Guzman, Mexico's most wanted drug kingpin, who has been at large since 2001; Napolitano notes that it took 10 years of perseverance to capture Osama bin Laden. However Latin American leaders are less optimistic than she is, with many seeking alternative ways to approach the drug problem. “We have to keep open ears and open minds,” says El Salvador's president, Mauricio Funes. “I think decriminalization could deliver a serious hit to the finances of organized crime groups... But we also need to consider how [it] could stimulate consumption among our youth.” The decriminalization issue will be debated in April at the Latin American leaders' summit in Colombia.

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