Latin America has long promoted a war on drugs approach. However, the significant levels of violence, as well as other health and social harms related to repressive drug control have led several countries across the region to call for an open debate on drug policy across the region. Uruguay has moved a step further by legally regulating its cannabis market.
After nearly 80 years of war, Colombia is on the cusp of closing a historic peace deal with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia, FARC), the country’s largest guerrilla group.
Former Mexican President Fox became an advocate for the legalisation of drugs after he left his office. After a first step to legalise marijuana in his country, he now predicts a legalisation of all drugs will follow within a decase.
The fact that Colombia’s decriminalization law and apparent progressiveness from the current government has not translated into on-the-ground implementation raises questions of how the cultural shift away from criminal justice solutions to the issue can begin.
Human Rights Watch describes how overcrowding in the prisons of the north-eastern state of Pernambuco is among the worst in the country and is a part of a prison system responsible for numerous human rights abuses.
A recent trip to Brazil prompted the author to question the US’s role in perpetuating drug myths and the “war on drugs” and the impact this is having on the human rights of US citizens and those in other countries whose governments continue to follow the US example.