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South American nations eschew drug legalization

South American nations eschew drug legalization



BOGOTÁ, Colombia – The majority of South Americans are against legalizing the drug trade throughout the region, according to a poll conducted by Chile-based pollster Latinobarómetro, an NGO specializing in data collection in Latin America.

According to the Latinobarómetro poll, 69% of Colombians are against the decriminalization of drugs, while 29% support it and 2% don’t have an opinion.

The country’s stand against legalization is further explained in “The seven myths of drug legalization,” a book written by Colombian journalist Juan David Gómez Rubio and published late April by the Attorney General’s Office.

“Far from supporting legalization of illicit drugs, the debate in Colombia and the international community must focus on which are the best and most efficient ways to control production, trafficking and distribution of drugs,” Gómez Rubio wrote.

According to Latinobarómetro, 74% of Ecuadorans reject legalizing drugs, while 21% support it and 5% don’t have an opinion.

Authorities in the Andean nation are debating a new penal code, in which consuming drugs is no longer considered a matter of national security but a public health issue.

The proposed statute decriminalizes possession of up to 10 grams (0.3 ounces) of marijuana, and five grams (0.17 ounces) of cocaine.

“This is grave,” said Carlos Pazmiño, coordinator of Luz de Esperanza (Light of Hope), an NGO that helps rehabilitates drug addicts in Quito, Ecuador. “What the law is saying is: Consume without being bothered.”

In Peru, one of the region’s leading producers of narcotics, especially cocaine, 82% are against legalizing drugs, the highest percentage in Latinobarómetro’s poll. Of those polled in the Andean nation, only 11% support legalization, while 7% do not have an opinion.

“Considering our situation as a producing country, Peru does not support drug legalization,” Rafael Roncagliolo, the country’s foreign minister, said on April 13.

If any government would legalize drugs, the criminal groups that distribute them would continue to operate by supplying the drugs to poorer populations, said Carmen Masias, head of Peru’s anti-drug agency National Commission for a Drug-Free Life (Devida). “What guarantees that legalization will end with this parallel market? What guarantees that drug trafficking is going to fall into line with this new policy of drug legalization? It would be crazy to legalize all of that.”

In Venezuela, 65% of those polled by Latinobarómetro reject drug legalization, 19% support it and 16% do not have an opinion.

Though the government has yet to take a public stance on the issue, members of the Venezuelan opposition rejected the legalization proposal.

“Drugs are an obstacle for youths to progress,” said Henrique Capriles Radonski, a candidate for the Venezuelan presidency of the Democratic Unity Table, a coalition of opposition parties. “We have a nation that is lacking a lot of things, including education, so I would not want to see [more of our youths] lost to drugs thanks to legalization.”

Southern Cone

In the Latinobarómetro poll, 77% of those interviewed in Chile said they are against legalization, while 17% support the idea and 6% do not have an opinion.

Of those polled in Bolivia 17% favor decriminalizing drugs, while 3% do not have an opinion.

In Paraguay, 77% of those polled by Latinobarómetro are against legalization, while 15% favor it and 8% do not have an opinion.

“Paraguay would suffer an enormous setback as a country if drugs were decriminalized,” Paraguayan historian Luis Verón said.

He said the landlocked nation of six million has suffered a surge in violence in recent years thanks to the proliferation of drug cartels in Ciudad del Este, a city that borders Argentina and Brazil, and in the city of Pedro Juan Caballero in northern Paraguay.

“Decriminalizing narco-trafficking will mean proliferation of internal micro-trafficking,” he said.

In the poll, 75% of Argentines do not support legalization, 20% favor it and 5% do not have an opinion.

In Brazil, 77% are against legalization, 20% favor it and 3% do not have an opinion. In Uruguay, 59% are against legalization, 29% are for it and 12% don’t have an opinion.

These numbers show that in the Southern Cone, as in the rest of Latin America, citizens know that there are more pressing issues than legalizing this criminal activity, Verón added.

“There are other priorities, such as food security, education and public health that come before legalizing drugs,” he said. “These are much more urgent issues pertaining to our development, so legalizing drugs is completely out of place in Paraguay, in the Southern Cone and in Latin America.”

Click on link to view poll of Central and South Americans stance on drug legalization.

Ángela Meléndez contributed from Quito, Ecuador, and Carmen Alvarado from Lima, Peru.

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Clutching at straws springs to mind when reading some of the quotes in this article.

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I think what these people (against decriminalization) need to understand is drugs are here to stay & will always be around. So surely the way forward is to make them all legal & spend the money wasted on "the stupid war on drugs" on education & drug rehabilitation. Simples.


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I would love to see how they got the data. If you go to some rough areas where perhaps parents have lost children due to OD's and violence, and perhaps they are deeply religious (Catholics) and the local Priest has spoon fed them that drugs are the devil then I guess you will get a high % saying that a sea change is a bad idea, whereas the more forward thinking folk of S America probably think its a good idea.

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Actually asking the man in the street what he thinks about drug legalization is not really of much value. The average person will not have put much thought into the matter and will be subject to receiving the propaganda without really critically analyzing the data.

This seems to me to be a study where they already knew how the data would appear and what they were going to use it to say before they started.

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Actually asking the man in the street what he thinks about drug legalization is not really of much value. The average person will not have put much thought into the matter and will be subject to receiving the propaganda without really critically analyzing the data.

Exactly my thoughts. I'm sure most people would change their point of view if you really sat them down and explained the pros and cons of legalization/decriminalization.

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People here also are confused, you cannot 'make them all legal' referring to drugs. It's high time people woke up to the fact that we make persons illegal, not drugs - the whole basis of prohibition vests upon four pillars of clay - one being that the law can make an object indivisibly illegal - nonsense, and nor can an object be 'legal'.

Edited by sunshine band

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Are the people who undertook the poll on the level? Have some statistics been massaged?

I should think there are a lot of people in positions of power over there who are fucking coining it from prohibition want things to stay just the way they are.

Edited by Fat Charlie

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In Nuevo Laredo, 23 corpses found on grisly day in Mexican drug-cartel war


MEXICO CITY — In a bold public display of the gang violence sweeping across northern Mexico, residents in the border city of Nuevo Laredo awoke at dawn Friday to find nine corpses of men and women hanging from a bridge at a busy intersection just a 10-minute drive from Texas.

A few hours later, authorities discovered 14 headless bodies wrapped in plastic bags, stuffed into a sport-utility vehicle in front of a Mexican customs agency.

The 14 heads were later placed in plastic-foam coolers and left by armed men on a crosswalk beside the city hall, according to the attorney general in Tamaulipas state.

Residents accustomed to violence in Nuevo Laredo erupted in fear and disgust on social media networks. One tweet read: “We have no law in Nuevo Laredo. Welcome to the Jungle!” A car bomb exploded in front of a police station last month, followed by a gun battle between Mexican soldiers and gangsters.

A Web site devoted to news about narco-violence published photographs of the nine victims — five men and four women — swinging from the bridge, the corpses bloody and bearing marks of torture. Some had their pants pulled down to their ankles.

There was a banner hung beside the bodies on the bridge, and its profanity-laden message boasted that “in this way I am finishing you all off.” It also said that one victim “cried like a woman giving birth.”

It was unknown who left the bodies hanging from the bridge or whether the 14 decapitated corpses found later were a response. Local police and state security officials reported no motives or arrests.

“It appears there is a really awful fight going on for the control of Nuevo Laredo,” said Raul Benitez Manaut, a drug policy scholar.

The city is an important gateway for smuggling drugs and people north to the United States, and for shipping bulk cash and weapons south to Mexico. Nuevo Laredo is a battleground between the Gulf Cartel and its former enforcers, the Zetas.

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