By Helen Clark, Olusegun Obasanjo, and Ricardo Lagos
With his evidence-based, public-health approach to drug policy, US President Joe Biden is signaling that America’s longstanding strategies of repression and punishment have failed. The US should also champion a similar shift toward harm-reduction policies internationally.
Fifty years ago this week, US President Richard Nixon declared that drug abuse was “public enemy number one” requiring a “tough on crime” approach in the United States and abroad. The “war on drugs,” which expanded in parallel with the global political, military, economic, and cultural hegemony of the US in the post-World War II decades, has delivered the exact opposite of its own stated aims. Today we have both plant-based and synthetic production; low-scale and high-level trafficking of illicit narcotics; disproportionate sentencing and over-incarceration; violence and rights violations; and money laundering and enrichment of organized crime – all strengthened, not weakened, by repressive responses to illegal drugs.
For the U.S., the Latin American agenda is not a priority. Still, Biden’s arrival at the White House signifies a respite for foreign ministries, who are exhausted by the region’s tension created by Trump. What changes can we expect now?
While Donald Trump is disappointed with the results of November 8th, the world remains incredulous about the difficulties of the great American democracy in recognizing as president-elect the one who won the popular vote with 50.9% and more that 5.5 million more votes than his opponent, who obtained 47.3%.
Although Trump has raised an amendment to the entire election result, alleging massive fraud, he has been unable so far to present any evidence. Biden will be the 46th president of the United States after four years of Trumpism, which has generated turbulence worldwide. Latin America and the Caribbean wonder what the arrival of a Democrat like Joe Biden might mean for them.