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How the Latin American Drug War Will End

When change comes, it will be brought about by grassroots civil society organizing in the U.S. and in Mexico.

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How the Drug War Will End

Given shifting political realities, it is easy enough to imagine that the drug war will one day come to an end. Yet, in light of the power and influence of the defense establishment, draconian policies may still prevail for some time at an enormous human cost. What, then, must happen in order for the entire militaristic approach to crumble and be dismantled?

When change comes, it will be brought about by grassroots civil society organizing both in the U.S. and Mexico. Forcing political elites in Washington to alter course will be difficult, but perhaps unconventional groups such as clergy, physicians, Latinos and even cops can help to move the debate forward. It is not inconceivable that many Democrats and even some wayward or Libertarian-leaning Republican can be brought around. In Mexico meanwhile, Javier Sicilia, students and indigenous peoples may find an ally in the PRD but face a more uphill struggle persuading the likes of the PRI. 

Fundamentally, ending the drug war will necessitate a hemispheric-wide effort and it is here where South America must play a more important role. To be sure, Bolivia and others have criticized draconian policies and in some cases even ceased participation in joint counter-drug efforts with the U.S. Yet, on a certain level it is surprising that leftist leaders have not launched a more concerted political attack on the drug war. Despite their anti-imperialist rhetoric, South American countries are still intimidated by the U.S. and  internally divided. Mexican civil society, as well as the PRD -- which has been defrauded by the likes of the PRI and the PAN -- could use more moral support from the South American left. Hopefully, such support will be forthcoming sooner rather than later so that the drug war scourge will become a relic of the past.

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