Nobel Prize winner in Literature Mario Vargas Llosa said that countries across Latin America will eventually suffer the same type of organized crime-related mayhem currently battering Mexico unless a decision is made to legalize drugs.
Repressive policies are not going to do away with drug trafficking the Peruvian novelist said at a press conference in Mexico City where he was awarded with the country’s highest honour for a foreigner, the Mexican Order of the Aztec Eagle.
Vargas Llosa said the struggle against violent cartels in Mexico - where drug-related violence has claimed more than 30,000 lives in four years - has been courageous, heroic and filled with sacrifice. However, he said Latin America should explore other approaches.
The Mexican situation is a sign, an omen, of what Latin American countries are going to experience sooner or later, the author said, adding that drug trafficking can do away with democracy.
Vargas Llosa said he backs an idea proposed by former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso for negotiations between drug-producing and drug-consuming countries.
Legalization is the only way to stamp out the criminality associated with drug addiction, he said.
Although he acknowledged that a drug-liberalization policy entails certain risks, the Nobel laureate said that by legalizing drugs and steering funds away from repressive policies to preventative programs Latin America can avoid the bloodbath that Mexico is experiencing.
Mexican President Felipe Calderon, who took office in December 2006 after scraping out a narrow victory decided to launch an all-out offensive against the drug cartels, deploying tens of thousands of army soldiers and federal police to violence-wracked cities nationwide.
The strategy has led to the elimination of several crime bosses and record drug seizures over the past four years.
But shootouts on the street between gangsters and security forces have become daily occurrences and turf battles between rival cartels in different parts of Mexico have escalated and drug-related murders have skyrocketed.
The official number of deaths attributed to organized crime-related violence in 2010, 15,273, was almost six times higher than the total in 2007.