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May 10, 2000, MEXICO CITY:

Alejandro Gertz Manero is Police Commissioner for Mexico City. This text appeared on May 10th in his regular column in El Universal, Mexico's most widely-read newspaper, and translated to English on the same day by The Narco News Bulletin


A Three-Part Solution Against Drugs

By Alejandro Gertz Manero

The possible solutions to the drug problem, if we accept the premises given in our last article about the grave and irreparable damages that addiction and drug trafficking produce in people and in countries, are the following:

The first has been applied to the hilt in communist China and in ultra-right Singapore, consisting in brutal execution, without tolerance nor exception, one of the most Draconian policies that can be imagined: The death penalty and the making of examples for any act involved in drug trafficking, including ferocious punishment for consumption.

The results of these policies have flattened the drug trade, to the point that in these nations the evil has been eradicated at the root and has almost stopped being a problem for their inhabitants and government. The social cost paid by these nations has also been very high, since both countries are known for their social intolerance and fierce authoritarianism. And each one, with its economic limits has a common denominator of repression and control that is inapplicable in a country like our own.

On the other extreme are found countries like the United States, Spain and other European nations that are known for democracy, openness, liberties and general respect for human rights: in these countries the trafficking and consumption of drugs has grown exponentially and has become a true nightmare.

In the United States more than 20 million people are daily drug addicts and the apparatus of production, transport, storage and distribution that is needed to supply this immense number of people daily has to be colossal, efficient, sophisticated and highly productive, and it generates profits much higher than those of the largest legitimate businesses in the world. Faced with this overwhelming criminal apparatus, the governments of these nations have lost ground day after day, in spite of the economic and political efforts made by thousands and thousands of people involved in this fight, from police to judges and prison guards, and the untiring rhetoric that defends this policy also fails daily. Nobody gets it right to correct the problem.

The production and transit countries for drugs, like Cambodia, Colombia and Mexico, live with their own hell, while their institutions are infiltrated by drug traffickers and suffer a constant decay, their social structures brutally erode without finding answers or viable solutions.

The third path has worked for countries like Holland that try to end the economic pressures of drug trafficking and recognize that drug addicts are ill, taking charge to allow the free use of drugs by those addicts inside of a therapeutic project, so that those who have irredeemably fallen into this vice do not become instruments of the economic interests of crime.

This option has the merit of recognizing a reality and confronting it in a scientific and social form, and has provided small but satisfactory results.

From the three options, I believe it is possible to design the one most viable for our country.

From the first would come legislation that is fundamentally more effective with greater penalties that establishes an efficient and well supervised vigilance in schools and neighborhoods to eradicate drug commerce from these places that are so important to the community. This would require taking very clear actions on a police level to confront the natural promoters of drug trafficking.

From the project of the more democratic countries, we can use the budgetary support and need for health programs and public education projects that permit the organization of these tasks within the atmosphere of how the great majorities prefer to live.

From the third option, it is indispensable to rescue the fundamental idea of ending the economic interest in drug trafficking, recognizing that addicts are sick and they require a controlled dose of drugs, that lessens over time, and medical assistance so they can recover.

The common denominator in this fight must be to end the economic interest of drug trafficking while creating conscience in the entire community about the damages of these addictions so that the youth are protected to prevent them from falling into into this evil.

more to come on this developing story from...