Saturday, August 3, 2013

Manuel López Obrador: no to marijuana legalization

A surprising decision by the far left politician, who criticizes former PRD colleagues

Guadalajara -
On the campaign trail in April 2012, leftist presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador said that drug legalization raised a "delicate matter," but that he would consider the issue after consultation with experts. "I want what will be right for Mexico, what will work for Mexicans. I won't be controlled by any special interest group," he promised. Despite the ambiguity of that statement, most expected he favored at least the decriminalization of cannabis.

But yesterday AMLO unambiguously rejected rising support for a legalization plan in the Federal District, heavily promoted by the the Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) of which López Obrador once was the shining star. PRD will push for legal pot in Mexico's Federal District. Decriminalization bills are expected to be introduced in the district legislature in September.

In last year's presidential contest, López Obrador was the underdog leftist candidate who represented Movimiento Progresista, a coalition of three parties, the most important one of which was PRD. López Obrador came from distant third place, trounced the second place conservative candidate and lost the race by a little more than 6% of the popular vote to PRI candidate Enrique Peña Nieto. In September López Obrador founded a new leftist party, the National Regeneration Movement (MORENA), which is still organizing.

López Obrador is highly critical of PRD marijuana initiatives in the Federal District, where he served as governor from 2000 to 2006. He told reporters yesterday that far more pressing issues were on the legislative table, including relentless national security challenges, especially in the southwestern states of Guerrero and Michoacán, widespread poverty, high unemployment and persistent official corruption at all levels of government.

Joining López Obrador on Friday was Rubén Moreira Valdez, PRI governor of the northeastern state of Coahuila, which has been a drug war epicenter for years. He argued that "legalization of marijuana would give further impetus to all kinds of collateral crime from which the major drug cartels already earn much of their enormous revenues, including commercial extortion, human trafficking, kidnapping for ransom and trafficking in arms and other contraband."

Gov. Moreira made indirect reference to a plan announced in late May by a former Microsoft executive who wants to "open the pot trade" with Mexico. James Shively, a close friend and business partner of former Mexican president Vicente Fox, boasted that the men were "going to mint more millionaires than Microsoft with this business." Moreira said such corporate ambition could only portend disaster for generations of Mexican youth.

Regardless of what the Federal District may do, there is little national support for drug legalization in Mexico, even marijuana. In May Peña Nieto said he is opposed to legalization as a supposed "quick fix" for the country's security problems, and a November 2012 public opinion survey showed 79% of Mexican citizens agree. Some experts argue decriminalization would exacerbate cartel rivalries.

Aug. 5 - A very different but equally convincing public opinion survey on Mexican attitudes towards marijuana legalization was published today in Sinembargo, a liberal media source. It reported that 49.6% of those questioned were opposed to decriminalization of cannabis, while 13.4% favored it.

Mexican Left lambasts poverty war: "a massive failure."
Mexico's incoming PRI government pays little attention to marijuana legalization efforts in U.S.
Political power is ultimate goal of Mexican drug cartels, says U.S. security expert
Economic inequality is the primary cause of Mexico's insecurity, says Manuel López Obrador

© MGRR 2013. All rights reserved. This article may be cited or briefly quoted with proper attribution or a hyperlink, but not reproduced without permission.

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