Thursday, 24 December 2009

Can the slaughter of a grieving Mexican family be the final straw?

Melquisedet Angulo was the only marine who died in a military operation in which one of Mexico's most notorious drug barons was killed last week. In an apparent revenge attack, his mother, aunt, brother and sister have been slaughtered only hours after his funeral.

This is just the latest chapter in a shocking era of drug-fuelled terror that the Mexican government is clearly failing to contain. We need to ask ourselves what is the best way to help the Mexican people end this war. And from where I'm sitting the answer is fairly simple. The only way to prevent the drug users of the world enriching these savage terrorist cartels is to withdraw our support for the documents that grant them their power. The UN drugs conventions allow us to decriminalise drugs (as Portugal has done to great success), they allow us to prescribe heroin to desperate addicts (a model spreading across Europe following Switzerland's lead), but yet they leave the one step that will deprive the true evil-doers in the trade billions of pounds as unthinkable.

When the Portuguese Commission for a National Anti-Drug Strategy considered their options in tackling their nation's rapidly increasing drugs problem, they "concluded that legalisation was not a viable option due, in large part, to the fact that numerous international treaties impose the "obligation to establish in domestic law a prohibition" on drug use" (Quote from To not consider control and regulation of a legal market for drugs that takes away the billions of pounds of revenue from the cartels that are growing in power and influence in Latin America and West Africa is to offer a shrug of indifference to what remains of Melquisedet Angulo's family and to the families of the 15,000 other victims of the Mexican drug war since 2006. The UN drugs conventions are, in effect, contracts granting opportunistic and phenomenally violent criminals the rights to a drugs market worth hundreds of billions of pounds each year.

This is where the Liberal Democrats come in. As founder of Liberal Democrats for Drug Policy Reform, I have prepared a motion for Spring conference calling for the control and regulation of all currently illegal drugs. The current draft makes no reference to the UN drugs conventions, but following concerns raised I have proposed adding the following:

"It is precisely because of the Liberal Democrats full support for the excellent work of the UN in promoting liberty, health, human rights, peace and security across the globe that we should withdraw our support for the drugs conventions which are clearly creating quite opposite effects."

It is out of respect for the true aims of the UN that we should withdraw from the conventions which stand in their way.

If the Liberal Democrats were to adopt control and regulation as policy and achieve an unprecedented electoral boost as a result (and I genuinely believe this would occur), then we could be the instigators of a chain reaction that might spread across the world consigning prohibition to its historical status as the biggest, stupidest elephant to have stood in the world's most venerable debating chambers. And Melquisedet Angulo's family would not have died in vain.

Read the arguments I have prepared in support of my motion at and join the debate on Lib Dem Act

And Merry Christmas to one and all.

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