Should Obama and Peña Nieto Discuss Ways to Legalize Drugs?

PHOTO: Mexican writer and activist and leader of the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity, Javier Sicilia, speaks during a press conference at Mexico Citys Tolerance Museum, on August 10, 2011.

Alfredo Estrella/AFP/Getty Images

Javier Sicilia, the main spokesman for Mexico's Movement for Justice with Peace and Dignity, does not shy away from putting thorny issues on the table.

On Thursday, he demanded that Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto discuss drug legalization, and the arms trade, in his upcoming meeting with President Obama.

"There will be no peace [in Mexico] while drug consumption is not regulated on the other side of the border, and while there is not a serious policy to control deadly weapons," Sicilia said on Thursday in Mexico City.

"Obama is coming here, and we have not said anything about how his [country's] weapons are destroying us," Sicilia added during a ceremony that marked the second anniversary of his peace movement, which has been touted by some analysts as the world's largest movement against the war on drugs.

President Obama is slated to visit Mexico City on May 2nd for a series of meetings with Mexican officials.

It's not clear yet what the American and Mexican presidents will talk about. But trade issues, border security, and immigration are the most likely issues, according to the San Antonio Express News.

Mexican human rights groups, and Mexican officials, are generally critical of U.S. gun laws, arguing that laws that make it easy to buy weapons in U.S. border states, fuel a massive arms trade across the border, with these weapons ending up in the hands of violent drug cartels.

Mexico's previous President, Felipe Calderon, even had a giant sign made in the border city of Ciudad Juarez, that faced the U.S. city of El Paso, and asked Americans to send "no more guns" into the country.

But Peña Nieto has not been as vocal on U.S. gun laws as his predecessor, so it will be interesting to see if he brings up the issue with Obama and how.

As far as drug legalization goes, Obama and Peña Nieto are both supporters of drug prohibition, though both presidents have said at different moments that they are willing to "debate" legalization, and "listen" to different proposals, on how drug violence can be reduced.

Sicilia, whose son died two years ago at the hands of drug traffickers, is a supporter of drug legalization, and a fierce critic of the U.S.-backed "War on Drugs."

During a month long tour of the U.S. last year, dubbed "the Caravan for Peace," Sicilia met with liberal U.S. Congressmen like Raul Grijalba and Bob Filner to discuss ways in which legalizing drugs, and treating them as a public health problem, could end violence between drug cartels fighting for trafficking routes.

Sicilia also requested meetings with Obama and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, but was not granted access to either politician. Expect Sicilia's movement, and other human rights groups in Mexico to make more noise about drug legalization in the days prior to Obama's trip to Mexico.

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Alt

For more than 40 years, the U.S. government has waged a war on drugs. Unfortunately, there are many issues with that war and its perceived success.

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