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Mexican Poet's US Caravan for Peace Tours to End the Drug War

A new peace movement to end the US-sponsored drug war begins with buses rolling and feet marching from the Tijuana–San Diego border on August 12 through twenty-five US cities to Washington, DC, in September.

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Sicilia and the caravan have been careful not to call explicitly for legalization, because their starting point is the suffering caused by the failed drug war. In addition, they acknowledge that the alternatives are complex. They have an informal consensus, though not a demand, on somehow regulating marijuana more safely, and promoting research and analysis on approaches other drugs like cocaine and methamphetamine - humanizing, so to speak, instead of militarizing, the problem.

The caravan arrives at a turning point in the hemispheric drug policy debate. Obama’s endorsement of a new “conversation” was forced by unprecedented criticism of US drug war policies by the presidents of Guatemala, Colombia, Costa Rica, Argentina, Brazil and Ecuador at a regional summit in February. Belize has followed suit, and Uruguay’s president José Mujica on June 20 proposed that his country become the first to legalize marijuana under state management.

A recent front-page New York Times account titled “ South America Sees Drug Path to Legalization” mocked Mr. Mujica as “famously rebellious,” a “former guerrilla who drives a 1981 Volkswagen beetle.” Mujica, the Times seemed to chuckle, would turn Uruguay into the world’s first “marijuana republic.”

But the regional upheaval against the drug war paradigm is real, and Obama knows it. The US government’s increasing isolation from Latin America will require more than “a conversation,” but it could usefully begin with one. The drug war status quo is collapsing. More than ever, voices of protest are backed by the power of hemispheric leaders too numerous to ignore.