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Mexico Drug Law Could Create Users Tourism Boom
date: 01-May-2006
source : MEXIDATA
country: MEXICO
editorial comment editorial comment
After a good beginning, the aticle goes back to cliches. Maybe the senate understands the implications better than the writer ( a rare event for politicians!)

Mexicoís new proposal to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of illegal drugs would have a spectacular, if perhaps unintended, impact on the Mexican economy. As the seventh most popular tourist destination in the world, Mexico could now become Earthís most sought after party place.

Drug legalization has certainly helped Amsterdam to attract a certain hippie-type clientele, but Mexico could cash in big time. Promotions like the Love Bus to Mexico, and the Cancun Spring Break Hash Bash, would be a moneymaking bonanza.

However it is not clear if the Mexican Senate even realized this when they passed this bill. Supposedly, the rationale is that the law will free up police resources to enable cops to focus on big time drug dealers. Apparently, President Vicente Fox has already said that he will sign the legislation.

There are only two possible explanations for this law. Either the Mexican Senate is incapable of foreseeing the most basic implications of its actions, or else they knew exactly what they were doing.

Either scenario is seriously scary. The new law would decriminalize possession and usage of small amounts of drugs, including heroin, cocaine, LSD, amphetamines, marijuana, peyote, ecstasy, and more. The amounts that would be permitted are enough to get a nice buzz. The allowable quantities are about four joints of marijuana, three or four lines of cocaine, a couple of ecstasy pills, and two pounds of peyote.

If a tourist could legally smoke up to four joints on a lovely Mexican beach, every plane headed to Mexico would be full. Maybe the new law would even lure back the tourists who have been scared away by the drug-related murders, assassinations and shootouts that unrelentingly occur in Tijuana, Nuevo Laredo, Acapulco and Cancun. As a tourism strategy, this law is brilliant.

But it is impossible that this grand new tourism vision would ever be accepted by conservative Mexican voters, or actually by anyone. It does not appear that the Senate even considered this. Did these elected officials suddenly just forget that tourism is the third most important industry in Mexico? Also, they donít seem to have anticipated the uproar that the bill would cause in the United States, right in the middle of the immigration debate.

Maybe the senators overlooked the astounding implications of this bill, thinking that it was just a minor matter involving sentencing issues and police resource allocation. But, if incompetence and lack of foresight are the reasons for this bill getting passed the United States should take pause. If they are really this lackadaisical about drug matters, the United States should reconsider Mexicoís fitness as a partner in the war on drugs.

Yet letís just hope that the explanation is incompetence, because the other possibility is even scarier.

What if they knew exactly what they were doing?

Letís face it Ė the only factions that could possibly be in favor of a drug legalization bill are the drug dealers themselves, along with their associates such as arms traffickers and money launderers. It is not very likely that police officials, community leaders, church groups, or the tourism industry have ever lobbied in favor of this law. Moreover, does anybody remember ever hearing any public debate beforehand?

The passage of this bill by the Senate, and Foxís apparent willingness to sign it into law, suggests the possibility that the influence of the narcos is on the rise. In late April a commando squadron of 22-armed men, who used hand grenades and fired at least 675 bullets from AK-47 and MR-15 assault rifles, attacked Baja California Police Commissioner Manuel Lerma in Mexicali. And on Friday of the same week the Mexican Senate approves a surprise drug legalization bill.

There are only two months left before the national elections, Fox is a lame duck, the peso is sliding, and leftist wild man Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador is still leading in most of the presidential polls. During times of instability, the narcos have a tendency to move right in. Maybe the drug dealers are the ones that cleverly slid this bill through the Senate, which is truly frightening.

As well, whether Fox eventually signs the bill or not the simple fact that such a bombshell even passed the Senate is a remarkable and distressing development. Overall, it looks like the pre-election political instability in Mexico is worsening.

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