The first time he said it, I picked up on it and it was later covered by Time Magazine. Now he’s repeated it, this time in a speech to the Americas Society and Council of the Americas in New York (picked up by Reuters).
“We are living in the same building. And our neighbour is the largest consumer of drugs in the world. And everybody wants to sell him drugs through our doors and our windows,” he said.
“We must do everything to reduce demand for drugs,” Calderon added. “But if the consumption of drugs cannot be limited, then decision-makers must seek more solutions — including market alternatives — in order to reduce the astronomical earnings of criminal organizations.”
He did not go into more detail, but the remarks appeared to be a softening of Calderon’s attitude towards state regulation of the market for drugs, which could curb the power of the cartels by taking away their profits.
Now it’s got legs. CBS Early Show realizes the news value and tries to get him to talk. Note how Calderon refuses to be drawn in to say the word, but rather leaves it to the U.S. to define the obvious need for “market alternatives.”
Early Show: “And you said ‘if drug consumption can’t be limited here, decision-makers must seek more solutions.’ You talk about ‘market alternatives.’ Are you talking about legalizing drugs?”
Calderon: “I’m talking about market alternatives, market solutions; the point is the astronomical […] that the criminals have, come from the consumption in the United States, that must be addressed. And my point is, either we reduce consumption, or we need more alternatives, more solutions, to at least analyze, and among them, of course, we need to include the market alternatives.”
In other words, “I didn’t say ‘legalization.’ You said ‘legalization.’ If you’ve got some other alternative to the black market, then fine, bring it forward, but there has to be an alternative.”
Again, I disagree completely with Calderon’s militarization of the drug war in Mexico, but I do admire this “market alternatives” approach. He’d get dismissed immediately if he used the L word, but with “market alternatives” he forces others to define it and got CBS to say it.
Update: To clarify, I do not mean that people shouldn’t use the ‘L’ word. They should. Merely that for Calderon’s particular personal situation, the “market alternatives” line is useful.