Mexico: The Human-Rights Case for Drug Legalization

The first shot in Mexico’s drug war was fired in December 2006, when Mexican President Felipe Calderon sent 6,500 security forces to reclaim Michoacan state from feuding cartels. “The battle against organized crime has just begun,” Calderon’s interior minister declared, “and the fight will take time.” He wasn’t kidding. That fight has now taken nearly 10 years, and tens of thousands of lives. And Mexico has little to show for it, besides death and destruction. In fact, the battle is as brutal as ever. Just this week, the Open Society Justice Initiative, which advocates for criminal-justice reform, accused both the Mexican government and drug gangs of committing crimes against humanity.

Humanity is what Lisa Sanchez hopes to inject into the drug debate. The drug war, she argues, is really a war on people. Through her work at the Transform Drug Policy Foundation and Mexico Unido Contra La Delincuencia, the Mexico City-based activist campaigns for drug...

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