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How the Latin American Drug War Will End

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As the underlying rationale for the war on drugs falls apart, some may wonder whether Latin America is really prepared to push back against Washington's militaristic approach toward marijuana trafficking. While such a prospect would have been unheard of just a few scant years ago, recent developments in the U.S. suggest that change could come fast at the hemispheric level. Indeed, successful pushes for marijuana legalization in Washington state and Colorado brought together some unusual political constituencies, and that is putting it mildly.

As I discussed in a recent article, pro-legalization advocates managed to cultivate support from women and even mothers by stressing family-friendly values like public safety. As they looked north, Mexicans were probably surprised to find that a wide social spectrum supported marijuana legalization in Colorado, including the NAACP, labor unions, physicians and clergymen. Perhaps most surprisingly, Colorado campaigners also garnered significant support from the socially conservative Latino community, which voted 70 percent in favor of legalizing cannabis.   

In another development that raised eyebrows, 33 percent of Republican voters approved marijuana legalization in Washington. The Tea Party crowd, which opposes the encroachments of the federal government, might be persuaded to break ranks with the more establishment GOP in future. What is more, liberals might join forces with law enforcement no less. Recently, a former Baltimore cop remarked on the Rachel Maddow show that it was time for Obama to scrap the drug war. The policeman heads a group called Law Enforcement against Prohibition, which hails the Washington and Colorado decisions as beneficial for local cops.

Mexican Poet Takes on the Drug War

While the Washington state and Colorado decisions garnered significant media attention in the U.S., Americans may be less aware of significant political and cultural changes afoot within Mexico --- changes which could also wind up undermining the war against marijuana. Indeed, if they are shrewd, civil society groups in Mexico might opt to cultivate unusual cross-border alliances in an effort to challenge the political establishment both at home and abroad.


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