Former Mexican President Fox Wants All Drugs Legalized

By Tony O'Neill 10/24/11

Vicente Fox attacks Calderon's drug war and blames US drug policies for mounting bloodshed.

Fox backs legalization "all the way." Photo via

In an eye-opening interview with the BBC, former Mexican president Vincente Fox has slammed President Felipe Calderon’s approach to Mexico’s bloody drug war as a failure: “It is only one single strategy—violence against violence—that will never solve the problem.” Fox, a close ally of former president George W. Bush who led Mexico from 2000-2006, adds that deploying the army to fight the drug lords has caused violations of human rights and of due judicial process. His country, he says, needs to try a very different approach: “Withdrawing the army out of the barrio, and... legalizing the production, distribution and consumption of drugs. All together and for all drugs. All the way.” He goes on to criticize US policy toward Mexico, claiming that in return for the $500 million the US has given Mexico to fight this war, Mexico is paying in “blood and dead bodies.” He suggests, “we legalize consumption and then we can move out of enforcement, and dedicate the money, the effort and the public policies to attending a health program…like [the US] did 100 years ago in Chicago until the prohibition was eradicated…then the solution came.” Responding to the charge that he's being unrealistic in expecting the US to legalize drugs, Fox says: “This nation—contrary to what you’re saying—is about to change. There is a Gallup poll, national…now 50% of US citizens accept the legalization of drugs." This is true—although the poll he cites relates specifically to the legalization of marijuana. Current president Calderon, despite vigorously fighting the cartels in his own country, has also previously hinted that a change in US drug policy would be desirable. And Vicente Fox is adamant that listening to the growing support for legalization in the US is the only realistic way for the drug war to end: "[The US] government is saying no, no, no. But people, public for legalizing.”

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Tony O'Neill, a regular contributor to The Fix, is the author of several novels, including Digging the VeinDown and Out on Murder Mile and Sick City. He also co-authored the New York Times bestseller Hero of the Underground (with Jason Peter) and the Los Angeles Times bestseller Neon Angel (with Cherie Currie). He lives in New York with his wife and daughter. You can follow Tony on Twitter.