Felipe Calderon: APPresident Felipe Calderon said he would
consider a debate on legalizing drugs Tuesday as his government
announced that more than 28,000 people have been killed in drug
violence since he launched a crackdown against cartels in 2006.
Intelligence agency director Guillermo Valdes also said
authorities have confiscated about 84,000 weapons and made total
cash seizures of $411 million in U.S. currency and $26 million worth
in pesos (330 million pesos).
Valdes released the statistics during a meeting with Calderon and
representatives of business and civic groups, where attendees
exploring ways to improve Mexico's anti-drug strategy called on the
government to open a debate on legalization.
Calderon said he has taken note of the idea of legally regulating
drugs in the past.
"It's a fundamental debate in which I think, first of all, you
must allow a democratic plurality (of opinions)," he said. "You
have to analyze carefully the pros and cons and the key arguments on
Three former presidents - Cesar Gaviria of Colombia, Ernesto
Zedillo of Mexico and Fernando Cardoo of Brazil - urged Latin
American countries last year to consider legalizing marijuana to
undermine a major source of income for cartels. And Mexico's
congress also has debated the issue.
But Calderon has long said he is opposed to the idea, and his
office issued a statement hours after the meeting saying that while
the president was open to debate on the issue, he remains "against
the legalization of drugs."
In proposing the debate Tuesday, analyst and writer Hector
Aguilar Camin said, "I'm not talking just about marijuana ...
rather all drugs in general."
The most recent official toll of thedrug war dead came in
mid-June, when the attorney general said 24,800 had died. Valdes did
not specify a time frame for the new statistics.
The government does not regularly break down murder statistics,
but leading newspapers who kept their own counts say last month was
the deadliest yet under Calderon: Acording to national daily
Milenio, 1,234 were killed in July.
The Mexican government says most victims were involved in the
Some attendees criticized the government for lacking consistent
statistics on the drug war and an effective way to communicate its
successes. They also said the goverment needs to do more to combat
the financial arm of organized crime.
"There's no systematic policy for investigating or seizing the
assets of organized crime," said Jose Luis Pineyro of Mexico's
Autonomous Metropolitan University, "nor a system of locating the
properties of organized crime."