Tuesday, March 27, 2012

USA at Fault

President Felipe Calderon


U.S. Cash Fuels Crime Wave

President Felipe Calderon rather succinctly laid out his vision of organized crime in a speech I attended this morning, and described what his government has done to combat it.

Let me recap some of what he said.

Since 2009, when the Attorney General’s Office publicly identified the 37 most-wanted criminals in Mexico, authorities have arrested or killed 22 of them.
Authorities have seized criminal assets (Calderon cited seizure of 562 aircraft) and vastly expanded the federal police force, from some 6,000 officers to 36,000. About a quarter of them have university degrees.

Ninety percent of federal police and prosecutors have been vetted, Calderon said (presumably using lie detector tests and examinations of assets).
But drug trafficking provides a gusher of cash that makes the fight against organized crime “interminable,” he said, adding that experts put the value of narcotics moving toward the United States at between $20 billion and $60 billion a year.

It is urgent to reduce U.S. demand for drugs in order to stop this “exorbitant flow” of cash into countries like Mexico.
“Without this flow of money, we would have clearly finished the job of putting the criminals out of business a while ago,” he said.

Now here’s the money graph of what Calderon has been calling for for at least six months, speaking in vague terms:

“It is the obligation of everyone, but fundamentally of those who consume drugs and provide this cash, to find a way to cut the financial flows and search all possible public policy options, including alternative public policies, to halt the profits from narcotics black markets that are the origin of violence and death in Latin America and the Caribbean.”

What does Calderon mean by “alternative public policies”? He never says. But it is a surreptitious way of hinting at legalization. Essentially, from what I read into it, Calderon believes that the United States has a moral obligation to legalize narcotics if it cannot halt the cash and guns moving southward that have turned drug traffickers into far more serious and deadly capos of organized crime.

I wrote about Calderon’s first hints at this last summer (click here).
Of 84,000 assault weapons sized in the past five years, 80 percent come from U.S. gun sellers, he said.

Calderon said two-thirds of the world’s kidnappings occur in the Americas, and 150,000 people died violent deaths last year alone. Something new has to be tried to stop the hemisphere from remaining the most violent region on earth.
“We have to make a hemisphere effort not only to identify novel schemes and practices but also come with a joint strategy to combat and defeat organized crime,” he said.

Calderon made this speech at the opening session of a meeting of justice ministers and attorney generals from around the hemisphere gathered to talk about organized crime. His appearance was impromptu (he cancelled a trip to Tabasco state suddenly), offering a sign of how strongly he wanted to address this subject to a hemispheric audience with clout.

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