09/21/11 — At the 66th Session of the United Nations General Assembly, President Calderón argued on Thursday the 21 that organized crime across the globe generates more deaths than all repressive regimes combined worldwide. Calderón called for the United Nations to help stop organized crime by creating an international treaty to halt illegal arms trafficking. “It is urgent to put serious controls in producer countries and sellers of high-powered weapons to keep stockpiles from continue to feed criminals,” said Calderón. “The United Nations must continue to promote international treaties on arms trade and prevent their diversion to activities prohibited by international law.” Calderón also suggested that officials look at “market alternatives” to reduce demand, a term some media outlets allege is a reference to legalization.
Calderón argued that tens of thousands of people, particularly between Mexico, Latin America, and Africa, are victims of violent crime stemming from organized crime groups armed with illegal weapons. “Today, thousands and tens of thousands in Latin America, particularly between Mexico and the Andes, are dying because of these criminals,” said the president. He added that the world faces the difficult challenge of dealing with criminals who do not respect borders and who pose threats to citizens worldwide.
The solution Calderón proposed to the United Nations included increasing nation states’ support of international treaties on arms trade, calling that all countries are “morally obliged” to reduce the economic gains obtained through the criminal black market. He suggested the United Nations could agree on measures to restrict arms sales that feeds the drug cartels. “What is the reason why criminals can access Ak-47, grenades, rocket launchers? The arms industry profits.”
During his speech, Calderón openly criticized the United States for its role in the recent violence in Mexico, pointing to the insatiable U.S. demand for drugs, citing that it is the world’s largest consumer of illegal narcotics. A few weeks earlier, in the wake of the Monterey casino massacre, Calderon declared the U.S. responsible for the “tragedy we are living in Mexico.” In response, the White House pledged to sustain “our historic level of cooperation with Mexico as we work to protect the public health and safety of citizens on both sides of the border.”
Not only did Calderón critique the demand for drugs in the U.S., he also pointed to the availability of weapons the United States provides to organized crime groups, noting that 85% of weapons seized over the last five years by his government were sold in the United States. President Obama’s administration officials have acknowledged the role that U.S. guns and demand for drugs plays in Mexico’s battle against cartels, though Obama has said he will not push for a new assault weapons ban. In response, Calderón cited a recent scandal over a U.S. program called Fast and Furious that allowed illegal weapons to be transported easily across the U.S./Mexico border.
Survey data has shown that although U.S. government programs are targeting organized crime, societal hunger for illegal drugs is not abating. According to the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, nearly 23 million Americans were estimated as “current” illicit drug users, meaning they had used an illicit drug within one month prior to the survey. That represents 8.9% of Americans age 12 and older, up slightly from 2008 and 2009, when the rate was 8%. The number of marijuana users has increased from 14.4 million in 2007 to 17.4 million in 2010. White House Drug czar Gil Kerlikowske said in a statement earlier this month that while there were no “significant increases” in drug use, it “remains at unacceptable levels.”