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vicente fox Negotiate, urges Fox.

Negotiate with cartels, urges ex-president

But Vicente Fox's idea has been roundly rejected by many

Laws are to be obeyed, not negotiated. That was one of many comments that followed the suggestion this week by former president Vicente Fox that it was time to sit down and negotiate with organized crime.

From the federal government and members of Congress to law enforcement officials and the Catholic Church came a resounding no to a narcopact as proposed by Fox in an interview with Milenio TV.

He said “negotiating and reaching an agreement with drug cartels” is necessary if the violence that affects great swaths of the country is to end.

If he could, Fox said, he would sit down with the cartels “and look for a way to reach an agreement, as it is a priority in order to keep them from killing themselves and our youth.”

Negotiating doesn’t matter “if we achieve peace and tranquility,” he said.

Fox, who was president between 2000 and 2006, believes the drug issue should not be addressed in terms of violence and criminality but as a health concern. Legalization, of which he has been a proponent for some time, would take the cartels’ income from trafficking and reroute it into federal coffers in the form of taxes.

But it was not reported what benefit the cartels would receive through negotiation, particularly under legalization that would deprive them of their income.

A hypothetical negotiation with drug traffickers “could be compared to the negotiation between the Zapatista movement and [ex-president] Carlos Salinas. The Mexican state invited [Zapatista leader Marcos] to a negotiation table, even after killing a number of people and soldiers.”

Fox thinks that drug-related violence has reached a level never seen before: “President Peña Nieto is under more pressure than any of the previous administrations.”

Guerrero Governor Héctor Astudillo was one of the first to dismiss Fox’s proposal: “that’s not the route [for the state].”

National Security Commissioner Renato Sales was of the same mind, declaring that the federal government was strongly opposed to any kind of negotiation with the cartels.

“For ethical, legal and security reasons there cannot and should not be negotiation with criminals, with narco-traffickers who lead groups of killers and kidnappers.”

A former special prosecutor for organized crime said to make an arrangement would imply that the state recognized it was incapable of combatting the problem. Cuitláhuac Salinas likened it to encouraging corruption.

Legislators of all three main parties roundly rejected Fox’s plan, as did a Catholic Church spokesman, who said the law should not be negotiated with criminals, but applied. Hugo Valdemar Romero felt it would be giving in to illegality and that laws are to be obeyed and not negotiated.

He also said the strategy to combat crime has failed but the narcos should not be considered as if they were almost another state.

Businesspeople in Acapulco, frustrated by ongoing and rising levels of violence, proposed a peace pact with organized crime back in March.

But the Acapulco Association of Established Coastal Businesspeople, whose idea was reportedly backed by 50 civil associations, cancelled an organizational meeting at the last minute “for security reasons.”

Vicente Fox, meanwhile, will probably get more opportunities to promote his ideas starting next month. The outspoken former politician will host a weekly political show for Milenio TV after the elections are over.

The show will be called Fox Populi.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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