Recent developments within Mexico's ongoing wave of drug war violence have shown public support for a new approach.
In March this year Juan Francisco Sicilia Ortega, the son of celebrated Mexican poet and columnist Javier Sicilia, was found tortured, murdered and left in a car together with the bodies of six friends in the city of Cuernavaca. This brutal act was another tragic example of the continued violence and rising death toll that the Latin American country has experienced within its war against murderous drug cartels.
In the aftermath of this tragic event, Javier Sicilia, the bereaved father, has become the loudest voice in criticizing, what he has termed as President Felipe Calderón's "stupid strategy" in combating the cartels.
Mr. Sicilia has stated that, "What my son did was give a name and a face to the 40,000 dead. My pain gave a face to the pain of other families."
He has since led two public marches in protest against the continued insecurity, with tens of thousands of supporters marching with him. A narcomanta (narco-banner often used by cartels to put out public messages) has even appeared, reportedly from the Cártel de los Beltrán Leyva (previously one of Mexico's most powerful and bloody trafficking organizations), in support of Javier Sicilia.
With a presidential election coming up in 2012, many are calling for a complete change in tactics. Current president Calderón is banned from running for re-election according to the Mexican constitution, thus a new candidate will govern Los Pinos from next year. A new sexenio offers the possibility for change. Historian Lorenzo Meyer has stated that, "The current policy has created violence and chaos that leaves citizens totally unprotected. A new government could say that there will be no war on drugs in Mexico if there isn't one in the United States. The U.S. government is not stopping drug use or the flow of weapons or money laundering."
Mexico and the U.S. share, what is geopolitically referred to as a 'low-friction border.' This is central to U.S.-Mexican relations and considering the high-level of business between the two neighboring countries it will remain open and relatively freely traversable. The U.S.' constant demand for illegal narcotic substances renders the vast sums put into eradication and production-reduction schemes as relatively futile. Drugs are quite cheap to produce, thus the differential between production costs and selling prices will preserve the "inelastic demand curve in a market with high discretionary income." A new approach to drug policy is thus of the up-most and urgent importance.
Perhaps one of the most important lessons that the so-called 'Arab Spring' has taught us is that the voice of the people can only be suppressed and ignored for so long. Democracy must always have the people at its core. Therefore the sea of change that can currently be seen in Mexican public opinion must be respected and appreciated for what it is, a people tired over the spilling of blood when it could be stopped. Ending the War on Drugs is thus one of the most pressing policy challenges of the modern world.