Thursday, July 25th 2013 - 06:09 UTC

Pope Francis warns Latam leaders against legalizing narcotics: attack roots of the problem

Pope Francis on Wednesday warned Latin America against legalizing narcotics and urged courage in the face of deadly drug violence as he met addicts in a Brazilian hospital.

From Saint Francis hospital in Rio, Francis tells the crowd that an act of courage and hope are needed to end the scourge of drugs

“The scourge of drug trafficking, which favours violence and sows the seeds of suffering and death, requires of society as a whole an act of courage,” Francis said as rain fell on the Saint Francis hospital.

“A reduction in the spread and influence of drug addiction will not be achieved by a liberalization of drug use, as is currently being proposed in various parts of Latin America,” he said on the third day of his weeklong trip to Brazil for a Catholic youth festival.

Francis said that a ‘friendly hand’ and hope were essential to overcome the drugs problem that must be addressed in its causes: a life dedicated to simple values of virtue, courage and much hope. But he warned the addicts “the steep road to recovery can only be climbed by you, with hope, never give up hope”.

Hours earlier, Latin America's first pope urged Catholics to reject “ephemeral idols” such as money, power and success as he led mass at a revered shrine in neighbouring Sao Paulo state.

Drug violence has killed more than 70,000 people in Mexico alone since 2006, while narco-trafficking continues unabated across the region, fuelling calls for a rethink of the US-backed war on drugs.

Guatemala's president has called for the legalization of drugs, a vision shared by ex-presidents in Brazil, Mexico and Colombia but opposed by the US and Mexican governments.

Uruguayan President Jose Mujica has proposed legalizing marijuana in his country.

But the pope said society must fight the underlying problems of drug use by “promoting greater justice, educating young people in the values that build up life in society, accompanying those in difficulty and giving them hope for the future.”

The Pope’s statements come when OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza is on an official visit to Uruguay and Paraguay to formally present the Report of the drugs problem in the Americas, a much debated and awaited paper which is seen as the kick-off for a continental discussion on changing the current repressive policies for possibly some degree of legalization. 

Francis on Wednesday flew to Sao Paulo to the basilica of our Lady of Aparecida, Brazil’s patroness which congregated hundreds of thousands despite dreadful cold and rainy weather. On Thursday, the pope will visit a slum and then address hundreds of thousands of young Catholics on Copacabana beach.
 

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1 Idlehands (#) Jul 25th, 2013 - 08:21 am Report abuse
So roughly 10,000 drug related murders per year in Mexico alone and the Pope believes:

“promoting greater justice, educating young people in the values that build up life in society, accompanying those in difficulty and giving them hope for the future.”

...will fix it.

You'll never stop people taking recreational drugs if they want to and all that criminalising it does is put the money in the hands of the criminal underworld. It's mindless dogma. Their war on drugs has created violent societies where nobody is safe from it - all for what?
2 Faz (#) Jul 25th, 2013 - 09:12 am Report abuse
Whats 'his holiness' on anyway?
3 zathras (#) Jul 25th, 2013 - 09:21 am Report abuse
I imagine the President of Bolivia might not agree with His Holiness.
4 Britworker (#) Jul 25th, 2013 - 09:41 am Report abuse
Good god, and they laugh at us for having a Monarch, at least Kate looks good in a dress.
5 GeoffWard2 (#) Jul 25th, 2013 - 11:31 am Report abuse
“.. narcotics: attack roots of the problem” says the Pope.

The proximal root might be the growing, harvesting and selling on of narcotics; but the ultimate reason is much closer to home:

Money, greed, power.
The desire to be rich, to dominate one's fellow man.
The 'roots of the problem' are in competitive and acquisitive nature of the human species.

Humans have created world business systems based on a spectrum of commodities and transformed products; only a very few of these are narcotic.
If non-narcotic products could give rapacious humans (or even those just earing their biggest crust for their starving families), a better rate of return .. then this might eliminate the narcotics economy altogether.

But that would need something called 'advanced development', and there is little evidence that the nations of the Continent seriously want to take this route of alternative propositions for all their peoples.
6 ChrisR (#) Jul 25th, 2013 - 01:17 pm Report abuse
The answer is Soma.
7 Briton (#) Jul 25th, 2013 - 06:48 pm Report abuse
CFK must be taking something,

everytime time she takes of her make up, the mirror cracks..
8 Baxter (#) Jul 25th, 2013 - 08:27 pm Report abuse
This is a very serious subject and not a laughing matter . I wonder how many of us who post brillant comments have a position on this ? One the one hand you have the Central Americans , in particular Guatemala ' s president , calling for legalization of soft drugs . Due to a large extent to the blood bath caused by the drug dealers . On the other Obama , whose country has vast experience in this terrible subject , calling for caution . That legalization is not the answer or needs much more study . Personally I tend to side with the legalizers since it would lead to the end , wishful thinking ? , of the drug cartels . But like all those with a liberal education in a very old university I listen to all opinions .
9 Elena (#) Jul 25th, 2013 - 11:11 pm Report abuse
I am from Mexico and I completely agree with the Pope on this, not only because of my personal moral reasons, but because most cartels don´t just dedicate themselves to produce soft drugs like Marihuana but also their bussines involve whole international reds of serial kidnapings, violations, selling of organs, execute murders of especific ppl, etc. Add to it that our current use of drugs is below the middle in the world so for us or for them, legalize drugs there would not make a great difference, their markets are in US , Europe,parts of the Caribbean, etc. So with all that for us this isn´t a question of legalize or don´t legalize but of what better means can we use to stop violence over our ppl because really that´s our principal objetive, we have had for years programs of help for drug addicted ppl of a civil, religious and national nature, that indeed have helped. So with a legalization we ask ourselves what would really change? is possible that consumption in our country would get up but what of the violence aspect of this groups? Colombia´s case is a little different because they don´t only have cartels to deal with but also a so called socialist revolution that got mixed with them.

In central America is the same, has the same problem Mexico and Colombia have with a quarter of the resources to deal with that. Otto Perez symply views legalization as a new way of combating them by taking away some of their gains and maybe that could work or not. This has also caused great illegal migration. PA hopes to help this with a single migration system and more security between central states Mexico and Colombia. www.youtube.com/watch?v=sEpqnXo5qks
www.youtube.com/watch?v=l9_0c7_JfFs i

Mexico, Colombia and central America countries agreed to join forces to combat them, for some also legalization is way to do it. Costa Rica has made progress without legalizing but finds the same problem Mexico found they only go to other more vulnerable countries.
10 Baxter (#) Jul 25th, 2013 - 11:44 pm Report abuse
Many , many thsnks for your very thoughtful post . Food for thought .
11 Elena (#) Jul 25th, 2013 - 11:47 pm Report abuse
You are welcome, Is just that we have discused this in my country for many years, so we have too much info XD. Greetings :-)
12 Baxter (#) Jul 26th, 2013 - 12:29 am Report abuse
11 One wonders if those of good faith ,with vast experience in this terrible scourge, could not unite to produce a sensible road plan . Perhaps leaders of ALL religious groups !
13 Elena (#) Jul 26th, 2013 - 12:42 am Report abuse
12 That indeed is a good idea, the Pope from John Paul the second, Benedict XVI and Francisco have all made ecumenic reunions with leaders of all main religions to celebrate their faith but also combat the great problems of our time from War in the middle east, to economic crisis in Europe and also Narcotraffic in Latam.

In Mexico I even remember a reunion of President Calderon, a chirstian catholic as a civilian, with some separated Christian Groups and The Jewish community to discuss the country problems, especially narcotraffic, something which put some admirers of separation of Church-State on edge, it was quite funny to see, as most ppl didn´t see damage done on those reunions and those helped to bring the ppl together which is always good for a country union :-)
14 Baxter (#) Jul 26th, 2013 - 01:32 am Report abuse
Yes , so much is written about President Calderon , mainly negative . But he was the one who had the courage to take on the drug cartels . At a huge human cost I know but what was the alternative , a great country run by the drug mafia ? The latest success in capturing Zeta leaders is thanks to him . Plus the fact that he cleaned out the corrupt from the police and the army .
15 Elena (#) Jul 26th, 2013 - 01:50 am Report abuse
Indeed, I didn´t always agreed with him, but his main objetives did help in a way, it was also an initiative of his to reunite all central america with Colombia in his last years of term to try and bring a trasnational problem a trasnational solution. Most of his critics national and international had the same flaws on their argument, superficial attest of the situation and no real proposition of solutions.
16 Baxter (#) Jul 26th, 2013 - 02:00 am Report abuse
15 He had the courage to fight the good fight . Now off to rest ,it is so cold here ! I even had to buy my two lovely dogs a coat ! In Paraguay ! !
17 Heisenbergcontext (#) Jul 26th, 2013 - 06:35 am Report abuse
In my experience the only thing that can arrest a drug addicts progress on the path to institutions, incarceration and death are the addicts desire to stop. Staying stopped requires professionally-run detox's, rehabs and, most importantly, regular attendance at AA or NA meetings. The various Church's in my city all provide counselling services for people with substance abuse problems, which is a valuable and welcome resource, however, the only true experts in this field are other recovering addicts. They are the only ones with the practical experience required to live with addiction without succumbing to compulsion.

I'm inclined to favour decriminalizing drug possession laws, at least, in this country anyway. All those billions of ( name your currency ) spent on enforcing drug possession and trafficking have proved at least one thing conclusively - you can't stop someone from getting drugs when they want it badly enough. You know you've lost when you can get high-purity heroin in a maximum security prison. Also, part of the allure for taking illegal drugs is BECAUSE they're illegal.

Providing a legislative and regulatory framework for this would be a huge, contentious task but considering the enormous damage one single addict can do to society, well worth considering.
18 Trunce! (#) Jul 26th, 2013 - 03:05 pm Report abuse
@9

“I am from Mexico and I completely agree with the Pope on this,”

Of course you agree - surely it would be heretical to disagree with infallibility ; )
19 Baxter (#) Jul 26th, 2013 - 03:16 pm Report abuse
Elena , ignore the remarks made by Trunce , adds nothing to the debate . But the points made by 17 are interesting . Particularly getting those who have managed to conquer the awful dependency on drugs to help those who want to follow the same route .
20 Trunce! (#) Jul 26th, 2013 - 03:40 pm Report abuse
@19

“Elena , ignore the remarks made by Trunce , adds nothing to the debate .”

I did not intend to add to 'debate' . I made a comment pure and simple - no response solicited or required. But if Elena wished to respond, I am sure she capable of decision without your guidance. However, I do sense your chivalry - perhaps an emergence of budding soul mates?
21 Conqueror (#) Jul 26th, 2013 - 04:34 pm Report abuse
@1 You're quite right. The best way to reduce the use of narcotics is to take every participant, importer, dealer, user, organiser, put them against a wall and shoot them in the gut, publicly. Then leave them to die in screaming agony. Televise it and put everything on the internet. Including, names, ages, home addresses, employment. No ridiculous “trials”.
This can be exceptionally effective. To start with, the “participant” is removed. Then, the public execution serves as a very effective warning. Smoke a “joint”, sniff a “line”, shoot an arm, and you could be dead before you know it. And there's the reduction in costs. No “trials” for the lawyers to leech from, no “counselling” services to fund, same goes for “rehab”. Less pressure on the NHS or other “health services”. Reduction in welfare benefit. Additional housing available. Good things all around!
22 Baxter (#) Jul 26th, 2013 - 11:14 pm Report abuse
20 Do glad you sense my chivalry !
23 Elena (#) Jul 27th, 2013 - 02:40 am Report abuse
19 Baxter: Don´t worry, but indeed, the groups of help that I know in my city are directed precisely by those people that got to recuperate from drug dependency, that isn´t an unkown thing to us as we have had programs like this for years.

20 No Trunce, that isn´t a reason to be called an heretic,we do have free will you know XD. I think I did give PLENTY of reasons why in our particular case legalization would be worthless to solve our problem as we aren´t part of their consumption market. But I understand you only wish to be a little troll so keep on if that makes you happy but I won´t bother to anwer again.

22 Hi Baxter,don´t worry about that. When you get to have your own oppinion even if it isn´t popular, you naturally will get your share of ppl who agree or disagree with you. Greetings :-)
24 Heisenbergcontext (#) Jul 27th, 2013 - 08:33 am Report abuse
@21 Conqueror:

Even if what you advocate - with your usual uber-assertiveness - were possible it still wouldn't work. Both Iran and the PRC have the death penalty for possession as well as trafficking. Both those countries still have plenty of addicts.

Malaysia, Indonesia and Singapore all have heavy penalties, including the death penalty, for possession and trafficking. Just about every Australian over the age of 16 would be aware of that and yet Australians, and other Westerners still keep trying to smuggle drugs from and to South-East Asia and keep getting caught. And a number have either been executed or are now waiting their turn.

On the other hand recovering alcoholics and addicts are among the politest, honest and most trustworthy people you will ever meet. Not because they are more pious or virtuous - but because they know the consequences for not being honest in all their affairs could cost them their lives. It only takes one drink, one shot of smack to flush years of sobriety down the tube.

A friend of mine attended an AA world convention in San Diego in the 90's. 60,000 sober alcoholics. The taxi-drivers loved them he said - they were the friendliest, politest and best tippers in the city while they were there.
25 Baxter (#) Jul 27th, 2013 - 01:07 pm Report abuse
23 Thanks Elena . Have a great weekend .
24. So true . I have also been in contact with ex alcoholics and addicts and have always admired their courage and willingness to help others .
26 Elena (#) Jul 28th, 2013 - 05:08 am Report abuse
25 Thanks Baxter :-)
24 That´s a great comment and very true, people that help others to recover are very special. Greetings Heisenbergcontext
27 Heisenbergcontext (#) Jul 28th, 2013 - 05:15 am Report abuse
@26 Elena:

And to you.

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