Listen Now

Cameron: Could the new Mexican President, Enrique Peña Nieto, end the War on Drugs?

By: /
11 July, 2012
By: Maxwell Cameron
Professor, Centre for the Study of Democratic Institutions, University of British Columbia

Could and should. Why should Mexico pay such a human price for the failure of the United States to control its own drug consumption?

Calderon declared the war on drugs in 2006 because his margin of victory was so narrow that he needed a bold measure to legitimate his presidency. The war was supposed to rally the country behind him. But Mexico was unprepared for the violence and militarization that Calderon’s “war” unleashed.

By de-escalating the conflict Peña Nieto can quickly reduce the bloodshed. The problem is that the PRI is a notoriously corrupt party, and the drug trade is now deeply embedded in Mexican society. It provides employment and cash in a country that needs both. So while Peña Nieto could end a senseless war, the drug problem is not going away. Drugs are a social and economic problem that can’t be solved through phony “wars.”

The bottom line is there will be no change until U.S. policy changes.

Before you click away, we’d like to ask you for a favour … 


Journalism in Canada has suffered a devastating decline over the last two decades. Dozens of newspapers and outlets have shuttered. Remaining newsrooms are smaller. Nowhere is this erosion more acute than in the coverage of foreign policy and international news. It’s expensive, and Canadians, oceans away from most international upheavals, pay the outside world comparatively little attention.

At Open Canada, we believe this must change. If anything, the pandemic has taught us we can’t afford to ignore the changing world. What’s more, we believe, most Canadians don’t want to. Many of us, after all, come from somewhere else and have connections that reach around the world.

Our mission is to build a conversation that involves everyone — not just politicians, academics and policy makers. We need your help to do so. Your support helps us find stories and pay writers to tell them. It helps us grow that conversation. It helps us encourage more Canadians to play an active role in shaping our country’s place in the world.

Become a Supporter