Regulate: ex-world leaders’ solution to ‘failed’ drug war

Reuters – 9/24/2018

Ruth Driefuss and Michel Kazatchkine of the Global Commission on Drug Policy. Source:

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – More governments should turn away from a repressive war on drugs that has “failed” and look to proven strategies to implement regulated markets for risky substances, a group of former presidents and leaders said in a report published Monday.

Since the group that includes 12 former heads of state began advocating for an end to drug prohibition in 2011, a growing number of countries and U.S. states have created medical or recreational markets for marijuana.

Now the group is looking at ways to smooth the way out of prohibition, recommending countries start regulating lower-potency drugs as well as reforms to international treaties that require prohibition and punishment.

“The international drug control system is clearly failing,” said Helen Clark, a former prime minister of New Zealand. “The health … of nations is not advanced by the current approach to drug control.”

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Central American security conference scrapped amid U.S. tensions with Guatemala, El Salvador

9/7/2018 – Washington Post

Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales, center, places a sash on Gen. Manuel Pineda Saravia, right, during the 145th anniversary of the military school in San Juan Sacatepequez, Guatemala, on Sept. 1, 2018. Morales says he is shutting down a crusading U.N.-sponsored anti-corruption commission that pressed a number of high-profile graft investigations, including one pending against the president himself over purported illicit campaign financing. (Moises Castillo/AP)

A high-level conference intended to highlight U.S. security cooperation with Mexico and Central America was abruptly called off Friday amid flaring diplomatic tensions with El Salvador and Guatemala, according to two Trump administration officials.

Top diplomats and security officials from the United States, Mexico and Central America were scheduled to meet next week in Washington as a follow-up to the “Conference on Prosperity and Security in Central America,” held in Miami last year and attended by then-Secretary of Homeland Security John F. Kelly and Rex Tillerson, the U.S. secretary of state at the time.

The talks scheduled for next week were scrapped after the governments of El Salvador and Guatemala notified U.S. diplomats that their representatives would not travel to Washington, according to the two administration officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because no formal announcement has been made. They said the conference has been “postponed,” though new dates have not been set.

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Raids hit drug cartel’s partners; Southland operation nets nearly 2 dozen arrests and thousands of pounds of narcotics.

08/09/18 Los Angeles Times

Authorities arrested nearly two dozen people Wednesday in a series of drug raids across Southern California, disrupting a vast smuggling ring linked to Mexico‘s notorious Sinaloa cartel that funneled hundreds of pounds of narcotics across the border using small aircraft and other means to cities throughout the United States.

Capping a three-year investigation, more than 250 law enforcement officials fanned out across Los Angeles, Santa Ana and several Inland Empire cities, arresting 22 people, said Paul Delacourt, assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office. In all, 57 defendants were named in three indictments stemming from the case. Many of those named remain fugitives in Mexico, officials said.

The case provided a rare glimpse into how one of Mexico‘s most powerful drug organizations sends enormous quantities of narcotics over the border, using an Amazon-like network of warehouses and “stash houses” to distribute the contraband across the U.S., federal law enforcement officials said.

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Nafta Talks to Pick Up Again as Threat of Auto Tariffs Looms

07/25/2018 Bloomberg

37777977041_b2efc1d2ec_oHigh-level talks for a new Nafta are picking up again this week following two months of limited negotiations that were marred by tit-for-tat tariff battles and diplomatic fallout.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland will discuss the North American Free Trade Agreement on Wednesday when she meets in Mexico City with officials from the incoming and outgoing Mexican administrations. On Thursday, Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo is traveling to Washington to discuss the status of Nafta talks with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. The bilateral gatherings mark the most activity on Nafta negotiations since May.

The talks, which have been under way since last August, stalled in the lead-up to Mexico’s July 1 presidential election. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador won and takes office in December. The challenge for negotiators is picking up from where they left off, with gaping differences remaining over key issues including rules for auto content and a sunset clause that would kill the deal after five years unless the parties agreed to extend it.

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Mexico, Latam allies commit to free trade amid Trump threats

07/24/2018 Reuters

Peña Nieto.PNGLed by Mexico, major Latin American nations pledged to deepen commercial and economic ties on Tuesday as they sought to counter the risk of a deepening trade war sparked by U.S. President Donald Trump’s “America First” policy.

Leaders of the Pacific Alliance and Mercosur trading blocs met in the Mexican resort city of Puerto Vallarta, seeking to present a united front against potential disruptions stemming from Trump’s threats to slap new tariffs on major markets.

“The aim was to strengthen the links between the two most important trade blocs in Latin America,” said outgoing Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, who has spent much of the past two years mired in trade negotiations with Trump.

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Mexico says South Korea seeking associate membership of Pacific Alliance

07/23/2018 Reuters

luis videgarayMexico’s foreign ministry said on Monday that South Korea had initiated the process of seeking associate membership of the Pacific Alliance trade bloc.

The ministry said on Twitter that Foreign Minister Luis Videgaray had welcomed South Korea’s decision to apply for associate membership of the bloc, whose leaders are meeting in the western Mexican city of Puerto Vallarta this week.

Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and Canada were last year admitted as associate members by the alliance, which comprises Colombia, Chile, Mexico and Peru.

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Mexico sees scope for progress in stalled NAFTA talks this week

07/23/2018 Reuters

Ildefonso Guajardo.PNGThere is scope to revive efforts to rework the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) when trade ministers from Mexico and the United States meet this week, a top Mexican official said on Monday.

“There’s clearly a window of opportunity to be able to bed down a series of open issues which are not numerous, but which are very complex,” Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said on the sidelines of a summit of the Pacific Alliance trade bloc in the western coastal city of Puerto Vallarta.

Guajardo is due to hold talks with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer at the end of the week in Washington, and will be accompanied by Jesus Seade, the designated chief NAFTA negotiator of the incoming Mexican administration.

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