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Uruguay Takes the Lead – but Will U.S., Colombia and Others Rethink Deadly War on Drugs?

Released: 12/11/2013 11:00 AM EST
Source Newsroom: Cornell University
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Ernesto Bassi, a native of Colombia, is a Professor of History and an expert on regional culture and politics in Latin America. He praises this week’s move by Uruguay’s government toward becoming the first nation in the world to have a legal system for the production and sale of marijuana, and calls on the big producer and consumer nations – Colombia, Mexico and the U.S. – to seize this moment to rethink the impact of war on drugs.

Bassi says:

“Yesterday, Uruguay took another big step towards the legalization of marijuana. For Uruguay and its president, José Mujica – new icon of progressives everywhere – the immediate challenge lies in the implementation. The world will be watching, commenting and waiting for international reverberations.

“The internal outcome of legalizing marijuana in a small country with no internationally renowned ‘drug problem’ is, in global terms, of little relevance. Unlike Colombia, Peru, Bolivia and more recently, Mexico, Uruguay lacks a pedigree when it comes to drug production, narco-traffic, and the ‘war on drugs.’

“The broader impact of Uruguay's measure lies, for the moment, in the debates it is already sparking in Colombia, Mexico and the U.S. – the leading characters in the story of death, corruption, deforestation and dislocation that has defined the life of thousands who inhabit the regions most torn by the war on drugs.

“Will Uruguay's example be followed by the big producers and consumers? Is cocaine next? Will the U.S. and the United Nations – whose clearly outdated 1961 Convention on Narcotic Drugs still functions as the global law for the production, trade and consumption of illicit substances – reconsider their anti-legalization stances? Will Colombia and Mexico continue to suffer the human and environmental toll of the war on drugs? Are the times a'changin?”

Por favor dale nota que Ernesto Bassi, un nativo de Colombia, está disponible para ser entrevistado en español.

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