The Headline: ‘Mexico’s Drug Wars: A Country Tearing Itself Apart’ Is Wrong


in Policy

A refreshing response to a questionable headline

Dear Editor,

Your cover page headline, ‘Mexico’s drug war:  inside a country tearing itself apart’ (13 August) is entirely wrong:  drug money is tearing Mexico apart. The reason is simple: prohibition. This means that about $300 billion a year (UN estimate) of money generated by the drug trade is fought over by drug cartels and terrorist groups, rather than overseen by governments.  Mexico is merely one example (albeit an especially appalling one) of similar murderous conflicts in many parts of the world, from Afghanistan, via Guinea-Bissau, the world’s first narco-state, to Colombia.  Drug money corrupts all involved,  as Malcolm Beith’s article (The battle without hope, 13 August) shows, with hundreds of billions of dollars laundered by some Western banks for drug cartels.

It is now over 40 years since President Nixon declared his ‘War on Drugs’, and things are worse than ever, with drug wars raging in many countries and  drugs still readily available in the West.  It is time for a change of policy from prohibition to legalisation, with strict quality and sales’ controls similar to those applied to alcohol and tobacco.

Yours sincerely,

Info on Tony Jackson

Tony Jackson worked for over 40 years on development programmes, disasters and conflicts in Latin America, Africa and South-East Asia, primarily with International Alert, Oxfam and USAID, and as a consultant for UNHCR and DfID.

He would welcome comments on this paper by email (




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