When president-elect Barack Obama meets Mexico’s Felipe Calderón today, he will be presented with a problem that went largely ignored during the last campaign season: the dramatic increase in drug violence in México. Last year, more than 6,000 people were murdered as a result of clashes between drug-trafficking gangs and the Mexican police and army. The violence is starting to spill across the border into the United States.
Instead of insisting on the prohibitionist strategy that Washington has pursued for decades in the region, President Obama should discuss with Calderón and other Latin American leaders alternatives that aim to reduce the pervasiveness of drug-related violence and corruption in drug production and drug transit countries. Only drug legalization will ultimately end the destabilizing effects of prohibition in this important U.S. neighbor.