For the first time since the U.S. launched its “war on drugs” four decades ago, there are signs that the forces supporting legalization or de-criminalization of illegal drugs are gaining momentum across the hemisphere, says Miami Herald columnist Andres Oppenheimer. The debate will take years to produce concrete results.
New factors include a reduction of U.S. anti-narcotic aid to Latin America proposed by the Obama Administration in its 2013 budget, which is beginning to pose an increasingly serious challenge to the traditional interdiction-based U.S. anti-drug strategies. For the first time, Latin American presidents currently in office are openly calling for government-to-government talks to discuss legalization or decriminalization of illicit drugs. The Obama budget would cut narcotics control and law enforcement funds to Mexico would be cut by nearly $50 million, or 20 percent from last year's levels, while anti-drug funds to Colombia would drop by 11 percent, and to Guatemala by 60 percent.