Mexico's President Calls For 'Humane Approach' To Illegal Drugs

By McCarton Ackerman 10/02/15

President Enrique Peña Nieto has joined the chorus of those who say the drug war's not working.

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President Enrique Peña Nieto
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As a rise in violent crime has rocked Mexico City, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto called for a “more humane approach” to illegal drugs during the United Nations General Assembly.

During his speech, Peña Nieto said that the current world approach towards dealing with illegal drugs is not working. He declared that “the center of attention should be on the well-being and the dignity of the people” before praising the United Nations for helping to promote peace in Mexico and around the world.

However, his comments came less than 48 hours after the Wall Street Journal reported that Mexico City’s murder rate is at its highest levels since 1998. The country’s Federal District has recorded 566 murders since the start of the year, effectively ending the city’s reputation as a safe haven from the drug wars that have plagued Mexico.

Homicide rates across the country have also risen 5% since the start of the year. Although the initial stage of Peña Nieto’s tenure saw a reduction in homicide rates throughout the country, something which he took full credit for, the new findings show he may not have had much to do with it.

But Raúl Cervantes Andrade, a member of the president's Institutional Revolutionary Party, said that the concerns about violence are exaggerated and that many major Mexican cities have seen a reduction in crime.

"There are parts of the country where [the situation] is complicated, and others where it has been resolved," he told El Pais. "Juárez was one of the most dangerous cities in the world and today [it] is a very safe city, with very low crime. There is much coordination between the Federal Police, the army, the navy and state police."

These findings are somewhat surprising since it was reported just last May that murder rates had fallen in Mexico for the third straight year. The University of San Diego's Justice in Mexico Project found that there were 15,649 recorded murders in Mexico in 2014, a 13.8% drop from the previous year.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.

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