Latin American Leaders Condemn US Drug Policy
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Leaders from several Latin American countries lashed out against the US yesterday, in a formal declaration against the nation’s drug policy. Mexican President Felipe Calderon was joined by President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia, President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, President Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua and others, to voice unified frustration and demand the US legalize drugs if they are unable to curb the appetite of American consumers. “We are next to the largest illegal drug market in the world,” said President Felipe Calderon. “We are living in the same building, and our neighbor is the largest consumer of drugs in the world and everyone wants to sell him drugs through our door and our window.” The anger stems from the enormous social and economic burden placed on Latin countries to stem what they see as an American problem. An estimated 45,000 have been killed in drug related violence in Mexico alone, when added to the astronomical and mounting expense of military and police enforcement, left largely to the transit and production nations, it’s plain to see the root of their frustration. Obama administration officials have said that the frustration is understandable, given that transit countries bare the brunt of combating drug war violence, but claim that the rhetorical attacks are counterproductive. William R. Brownfield, assistant secretary of state for the Bureau of International Narcotics said of the war on drugs: “I refuse to accept that there has not been progress.”