|Posted on November 30, 2012 at 5:10 AM|
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that she did not believe that domestic drug legalization was the answer to the cartel violence that plagues Central America as a result of the drug trade.
Asked by the Costa Rican ambassador to United States Muni Figueres whether the drug war was winnable, Clinton stressed that legalization is the wrong approach.
"I respect those in the region who believe strongly that [U.S. legalization] would end the problem," Clinton said Thursday at a Washington D.C. forum hosted by Foreign Policy magazine. "I am not convinced of that, speaking personally."
Some Central American leaders have urged the United States to consider other approaches to domestic drug usage — citing ruthless drug cartels that murder thousands of their citizens. Several Central American countries are considering limited legalization of drugs within their borders.
"I think when you've got ruthless vicious people who have made money one way and it's somehow blocked, they'll figure out another way," she said. "They'll do kidnapping they'll do extortion."
Speaking about the two states that recently legalized marijuana, Clinton repeated the Obama administration position that they haven't formulated a response yet.
"This is an ongoing debate," she said. "We are formulating our own response to the votes of two of our states as you know — what that means for the federal system, the federal laws and law enforcement."
So far the only thing the federal government has said about the ballot initiatives — which create the most tolerant marijuana jurisdictions anywhere in the world — is that federal drug law remains unchanged.
Clinton said that anti-cartel and trafficking efforts in Colombia and Mexico have been successful in quelling some of the worst of the violence.
"I remember very well when then-[Colombian] President Uribe couldn't' even be Inaugurated without the drug traffickers in alliance with the [terrorist group] FARC basically firing artillery rounds into the square where the inauguration is supposed to be," Clinton said.
"I think you can, with a comprehensive strategy succeed in certainly pushing back the tide of violence and corruption that drug trafficking brings," she said.
Clinton said ultimately that institution building and improving the quality of life in developing nations would help stem the drug trade.
"Ultimately, it's about providing greater opportunity, greater education, greater economic jobs and growth to a population so that they can have a real stake in their society and be partners with their government," she said.