Matt, Favianna, Oscar and Erick / Presente.org – 2016-02-06 23:50:04
ACTION ALERT: President Obama: Tell the United Nations to End the Drug War
Matt, Favianna, Oscar, Erick, and the Presente.org Team
(February 1, 2016) — Youâ€™ve probably seen the news. The US and Mexican governments are celebrating the capture of El Chapo, the leader of one of Mexico’s most violent drug cartels, (1) but the ugly truth is that the war on drugs is a disastrous, brutal failure. This failed policy empowers the criminals it claims to fight, weakens democratic institutions, and violates human rights. (2)
But this could change in April, when the United Nations will meet to debate international drug policy. (3) President Obama could help stop the harm created by racist and outdated drug war policies by calling for a focus on public health and human rights at the United Nations in April.
The war on drugs hurts Latinos. In the United States, police frequently target Latinos and Black people for heavier enforcement of drug laws than white people, even though a higher percentage of white people use illegal drugs. (4)
Latinos disproportionately end up in federal prisons, with Latino men â€œincarcerated at a rate nearly 40% higher than whites . . . one in three persons held in federal prisons is Latino, and Latinos are four times as likely as whites to end up in prison.” (5).
In Central and South America, racist US policy causes misery, corruption, and widespread violence. And illegal drugs still reach the US and Europe. (6) Colombia is a prime example of US-backed drug policy feeding rampant political corruption, economic inequality, and horrible violence. Are you willing to accept â€œcorruption, impunity and human rights abuses” as the price of progress? (7)
After the US helped bring down Colombian drug cartels, Mexican cartels took their place, violent gangs in Honduras and El Salvador grew, and cocaine trafficking continued. Women and children flee the extreme violence in droves — but the US ignores its role in destabilizing the region and heartlessly sends these vulnerable people back. (8)
And in Mexico, at least 165,000 people were murdered between 2007 and 2014, mostly due to drug war policies. (9).You may think the cartels are behind the death toll, but Mexican military and local police forces have been implicated in torture and murder. So why does the US send Mexico tens of millions of dollars each year?10
It’s sick. The US drug war weakens democracy and threatens human rights in South and Central America. President Obama has a duty to help chart a new course for drug policy. Itâ€™s time we move beyond punishment and prohibition.
For the first time in nearly 20 years, the United Nations will debate drug policy. The stakes are high — will world leaders keep failed policy? Or is this the beginning of the end of the war on drugs?
President Obama wields international influence, and his voice would add critical support to the movement for evidence-based drug policy. We’re asking him to call for global policies that prioritize public health, harm reduction, and human rights — not punishment and criminalization of drug users.
Dear President Obama,
I’m writing to ask that you personally address the United Nations General Assembly Special Session in April and call for a change of direction from the failed “War on Drugs” towards common sense drug policies that prioritize public health, harm reduction, and human rights.
The war on drugs has been an objective failure — even on its own terms — with disastrous consequences. At the last UNGASS meeting on drugs, convened in 1998, world leaders set a goal of complete eradication of illicit drug markets by 2008. Not only has this not been achieved, illicit drug markets and the networks that supply them are more wealthy and influential than ever.
After decades of using the same approach rooted in prohibition of drugs and racial targeting, criminalization, and incarceration of drug users, we need new approaches to managing and reducing the potential harms of drug use.
We applaud your administration’s stated commitment to “coordinating an unprecedented government-wide public health and public safety approach to reduce drug use and its consequences.”
But this stated commitment will ring hollow if the United States fails to vociferously advocate for these approaches at the United Nations.
Your voice and influence could so profoundly change the course and tone of the debate that your presence is necessary and your silence would be powerfully irresponsible.
1. “El Chapo is Caught, But Corruption, US Consumption & Failed Drug War Keep the Cartels in Business.” Democracy Now!. January 12, 2016.
2. See reference 1.
3. “What Is UNGASS 2016?” Open Society Foundations. August 2015.
4. “Latinos and Mass Incarceration: The Dust Under the Rug.” Latino Rebels. January 7, 2014.
5. See reference 4.
6. “Plan Colombia: Ten Years Later.” Stop the Drug War. July 15, 2010. 7. See reference 6.
8. “Why Is the Administration Sending Refugees Back to Narco War Nightmare US Helped Create?” Stop the Drug War. January 18, 2016.
9. “The Staggering Death Toll of Mexicoâ€™s Drug War.” Frontline. July 27, 2015.
10. “Why Is the US Still Spending Billions to Fund Mexicoâ€™s Corrupt Drug War?” The Nation. February 27, 2015.