SAN DIEGO -- Former Mexican President Vicente Fox believes the current strategies employed against Mexico's drug cartels are not working and he is advocating a different approach.
Speaking passionately about the issue, Fox said he has a team of experts tracking drug-related violence in Mexico. He is concerned the government crackdown and cartel violence that has left about 34,000 dead in the past 4 years is also affecting trade, investment, and tourism.
Fox said he's looking at other countries for possible solutions. One is Portugal, which decriminalized all drugs 10 years ago and has since seen a 25 percent decrease in drug consumption .
"We might have an answer there because we have to separate the health problem (caused) by consuming drugs, and the crime and violence associated with it to distribute in the black market," he said.
His comments on drug violence and legalization were first published in the Mexican media a couple of months ago. Now Fox said he's eager to debate it with American audiences.
Fox said Mexico is losing young lives at an alarming rate as a result of the drug war. The fear and the violence is destroying Mexican society, Fox said. He adds that the U.S. has as much as Mexico at stake in the drug war.
He criticizes US officials for disagreeing with his push to legalize drugs and stop the violence.
"If they don't support (legalization), why then they don't (reduce consumption) of it? It's their job, it's their responsibility, and it's not happening," Fox said. "What I read everywhere is growth, growth, growth of consumption - in both sides, in Mexico and in United States."
Fox's successor, Mexican President Felipe Calderon, has waged a military fight against the cartels since 2007. The drug war is expected to be a top campaign issue in Mexico's next presidential election in 2012.