• Connect with us on Linkedin

Uruguay's Ex-President Vasquez In Favor of Regulating Cocaine Market

Uruguay's Ex-President Vasquez talking marijuana, cocaine Uruguay's Ex-President Vasquez talking marijuana, cocaine

In a surprise that comes just days after an historic vote by Uruguay's lower house to legalize marijuana, the country's ex-president Tabare Vasquez said Uruguay should now consider ways "to regulate" the cocaine market.

Linkedin
Google +

Vasquez, who is positioning himself to run for president again next year and has a 62 percent approval rating, said in a television interview that the key question is education, not consumption. (See interview below)

"I think (legalizing cocaine) is not necessarily making it easier to consume it," he said. "We have to educate (the population) so they don't consume it. But more than making it easier, we need to regulate the consumption of drugs."

He later linked the proposal to his administration's successful anti-smoking campaign in the mid-2000s, and noted the vast number of deaths linked to smoking (an estimated five million per year) far outnumbers deaths linked to psychoactive drugs (closer to 200,000 per year).

In early August, Uruguay's lower house passed a measure to legalize the production, sale, and consumption of marijuana. The bill soon goes to the senate, where it is expected to pass easily. Once it passes the senate, it is signed into law, which will make the country the first in the world to completely legalize the drug.

InSight Crime Analysis

Vasquez's pronouncement is surprising on various levels. Vasquez had previously been coy about his position concerning the legalization of marijuana, and few expected him to come out so clearly in favor of the measure, much less talk openly about cocaine in the process.

The marijuana bill did not have popular support (63 percent were against it in the polls leading up to the house vote), so Vasquez's position on cocaine and marijuana may hurt him in the campaign.

SEE ALSO: Uruguay: Marijuana, Organized Crime and the Politics of Drugs

To be sure, legalizing marijuana has been a monumental task for the proponents of the measure. It took a sophisticated campaign that included YouTube videos (see below) to familiarize Uruguayans with the issue and win over Vasquez's own party, which barely managed to push it through the lower house.

Finally, cocaine is not marijuana and there is little consensus, even in the pro-marijuana camps, about how "to regulate" its consumption. 

Still, Vasquez is one of many leaders in the region who is trying to turn the drug debate from a security question into a health question. He knows health issues. He is himself a doctor and is quick to point out that his efforts are about regulating and legalizing the consumption of the now illicit drugs.

"We need to educate (youth) to prevent (consumption)," he said.

Linkedin
Google +

Media

v
Ad in support of marijuana legislation in Uruguay Regulacion Responsable

---

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We also encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, provided that it is attributed to InSight Crime in the byline, with a link to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

InSight Crime Search

The Complete Organized Crime Database on the Americas

InSight Crime Social

facebooktwittergooglelinkedin

Most Read

Mexico Cyber Criminals 'Kidnapping' Business Computer Systems

Mexico Cyber Criminals 'Kidnapping' Business Computer Systems

Hackers in Mexico have found a profitable illicit enterprise in extorting businesses by hijacking computer systems, another dimension in the country's large and growing cyber crime industry.

Read more

LatAm Governed by Crime: The Links Between Politics & Org Crime

LatAm Governed by Crime: The Links Between Politics & Org Crime

Yet another scandal flooded the pages of newspapers in Ecuador in 2012 and 2013: the former governor of Manabi, Cesar Fernandez, was caught trying to smuggle drugs -- and not for the first time. Fernandez...

Read more

Colombia Seizes 'Historic' 7 Tn Cocaine Load Destined for Europe

Colombia Seizes 'Historic' 7 Tn Cocaine Load Destined for Europe

Authorities in Colombia have seized a record seven ton shipment of cocaine destined for the Netherlands in the northern Caribbean port of Cartagena, a haul likely linked to the Urabeños, who are feeding the European...

Read more