STOCKTON, CA -The U.S. should legalize drugs, undocumented immigrants and kill terrorists while respecting their human rights.
In a nutshell, that’s what former Mexican President Vicente Fox said and repeated during his day-an-a-half stay in Stockton this Friday and Saturday, May 6 and 7, 2011.
Fox was invited by the University of the Pacific’ Latino Pacific Club & Cien Amigos, attending a string of receptions and events, and delivering the keynote speech for Pacific 2011 Commencement Ceremony on Saturday.
In 2000, Fox managed to be the first candidate to wrestle the Mexican presidency from the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) —a monopoly it held for more than 70 years. Although elected as the “president for change” Fox “newness” soon weaned and his administration did not succeed on changing any of the core problems of the southern neighbor: revitalizing the economy, checking endemic corruption and drug cartel’s power. As a matter of fact, statistics suggest the greatest number of Mexican undocumented
immigrant present today in the U.S. left Mexico during his 6-year administration.
Aware he was in Stockton, Fox delivered a “Gran Saludo (Great Salute) to my paisanos (countrymen)” reminding press and attendees how important migrants are to the U.S. economy and wellbeing. “Migrants bring loyalty, capacity, quality, and values for this nation,” he said, “they are my heroes!”
Regarding the immigration stalemate, Fox complained (former) President Bush did miss a great opportunity to have a sensible reform. Decried the Arizona anti-immigrant laws and warned Texas was following a bad example. Insisting immigrants are not a burden, but an asset, Fox proposed that the next generation of U.S. retirees is going to be sustained by them. He also warned the jobs that Mexicans would not fill in the United States, would soon be filled by China or India “and the jobs will leave for the East.”
On the ongoing and bloody Mexican drug war, Fox insisted the U.S. shares the blame for it. He claims the transport, delivery, financing and consuming of drugs “are all done in U.S. territory” and —while praising current Mexican President Calderon for his bravery on taking on the cartels, he criticized his decision to use the Army to do “police work” He insisted the Army repeatedly violates human rights because they are not an institution meant to deal with civilians.
He stressed the root of the problem is that drug use is illegal… if drugs were to be legal and controlled, the problem would go away, he said. “It’s like Prohibition (1920-1933),” he added, “it did not work then, why will it work now?” he asked rhetorically. He cited Portugal’s case, where drug legalization reduced the problem by 25 percent. Finally he said that —although drug consumption is an individual decision— it’s the government duty to educate and inform “the young generations” about the problems they bring.
Asked about Osama bin Laden’s demise, Fox congratulated the U.S. for the success, but forewarned about thinking that by killing the leader, his or her organization will go away. “There are more out there,” he stressed, adding that “any success that is achieved like this (the raid on bin Laden’s home) whether against terrorists or drug traffickers, it’s not complete if human rights are trampled on… I don’t know if bin Laden was given justice or simply was blown off the face of the Earth.”
Not everything were welcomes for the former statesman. Across the University Plaza Waterfront Hotel (formerly the Lexington Plaza) a small contingent of protesters, lead by local activist Luis Magaña, held signs blaming Fox for the last Mexican peasant exodus to the North, and for the corruption that led to the ongoing drug war.