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DAILY GAZETTE: Military approach not enough to win drug war

April 21st, 2009

To the editor:

On April 16 President Obama made his first visit to Mexico amid rising drug-related violence. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton rightly said that the problem stems from the insatiable demand for drugs in the United States. But so far the only concrete measure the U.S. government has offered is the Merida Initiative — a military response that continues the failed supply-side military strategy of combating drugs, but allocates no money for drug treatment or other proven demand-reduction strategies in the United States.

To focus solely on the drug cartels and violence is missing the boat. NAFTA and the current economic crisis have had devastating effects throughout Mexico, increasing poverty and out-migration. Sustainable development in Mexico and a reduced demand for drugs in the United States would drastically weaken the appeal of drug cartels and organized crime.

The Mexican people need an economic solution, but instead they suffer the consequences of a military solution with U.S. support. It is time to renegotiate NAFTA.

Luisa Torres