<i>"The Name of Our Country is América" - Simon Bolivar</i> The Narco News Bulletin<br><small>Reporting on the War on Drugs and Democracy from Latin America
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Comment on Lula's "One-Two" Punch

Should governments decriminalize drug users and target money launderers instead?


By Narco News Readers
(That Means You!)

April 29, 2003

Comment on the story:

Lula: The Drug War is a Class War
Brazil’s President Opens the “Black Box” of Narco-Corruption
By Al Giordano

Special to The Narco News Bulletin

Under Scrutiny
Brazil’s Attorney General and Central Bank Launch Strategies to Combat Money Laundering
By Karine Muller

Reporting from Brasília

Publisher’s Commentary:

Although other heads of state – notably Jorge Batlle in Uruguay (in 2000) and Vicente Fox in Mexico – have called for drug decriminalization, Brazil’s President Lula da Silva is the first that seems to have a strategy toward implementing that goal.

While his Health Ministry has proposed “harm reduction” programs to diminish the damages associated with the use of certain drugs under prohibition, Lula’s law enforcement officials – most notably his Attorney General Márcio Thomaz Bastos and his Public Safety Secretary Luis Eduardo Soares – have also called for drug decriminalization.

What is interesting, and unprecedented, though is the strategy being deployed: To shift the resources of law enforcement away from chasing and imprisoning the drug user and small dealer, and to instead go after the white-collar narco-traffickers, the ones who launder illicit drug money to make it appear to come from legal business activity.

It’s what boxers call a “one-two punch.” One, knock the opponent off balance with the calls for decriminalization, and, Two, knock him to the floor by going after the big drug money that never gets touched. Could this lead to a knockout of drug prohibition?

In my report on these developments, I suggest that there is a political element to this strategy, one that gives the prohibitionist elites only one “exit door” to avoid their drug war persecutions from bouncing back upon them: To support legalization, amnesty for all drug war convicts and defendants, and end the prohibition once and for all.

But I could be wrong in that analysis. What do you think, kind reader?

Is going after the money-launderers, the real narcos in what Lula calls the “large centers of capital,” consistent with an anti-prohibitionist strategy?

Do you think that if a major government finally did target, effectively, the white-collar narcos, that the elites, including the Commercial Media, would continue to prop up prohibitionist ideology and regimes?

Should this strategy be deployed in other lands, like your own?

Politicians in every land talk about stopping drug money laundering, but their policies continue to fill the prisons with the poor. Do you think that Lula and the members of his administration are serious about this? And if they are, what do you think will happen?

Offer your comments on decriminalizing drug users, harm reduction, targeting drug money launderers, Lula, Bastos, Soares, and the comments of Senators Péres and Cabral in favor of a legalization debate, here:

(For advice on how to best get your comments, pro or con, posted on Narco News – the number one criteria is “do not bore the reader!” – see the instructions on our Reader Comments page.)

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The Narco News Bulletin: Reporting on the Drug War and Democracy from Latin America