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UC San Diego Conference Aims To 'Rethink The War On Drugs'

February 8, 2018 1:35 p.m.

UC San Diego Conference Aims To 'Rethink The War On Drugs'


Rafael Fernández de Castro, director, Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies at UC San Diego's School of Global Policy and Strategy

Related Story: UC San Diego Conference Aims To 'Rethink The War On Drugs'


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

>> The war on drugs has been going on for several decades yet signs of failure can be seen and felt on both sides of the US, Mexico border. The opioid academic has -- epidemic has claimed lives in the US. In Mexico it has produced 200,000 deaths and 30,000 disappearances in the last decade. Tomorrow, the UC San Diego school of policy and strategy will host a conference called rethinking the war on drugs. My guess our Rafael Fernandez, the director of the sender for US-Mexico studies in the school of global policy and strategy at UC San Diego. Thank you very much for coming in.
>> You for having me here.
>> What part of society would you say is being impacted by the drug war?
>> Everybody. There are still people in Mexico believing that the kids were killed because they were in drug trafficking. Not really. Violence in Mexico is affecting everybody. It's happening in places like Ohio. The epidemic affects everybody. It is very sad. It is part -- about time to do something. The word drugs has not been effective. Especially not in the last decade. This is why Tamara we have the program at the University.
>> The name of it is rethinking the war on drugs. That is pretty descriptive. What are you trying to get out with this conference?
>> We believe cooperation is not the most efficient. We created an initiative which was very important with national cooperation. It is not helping Mexico. It did well for the first few years. Now we have to rethink that agreement. That is why Tamara we will be meeting. About 20 experts from Mexico and the US will rethink this.
>> Why do you say they are not cooperating quick
>> It is not efficient. Most hair when coming here comes from Mexico. There is a lot of new culprits. I would say, it was not effective because we have not been able to solve the problem because there is violence in Mexico and drug addiction in the US. I would say, at the height of the initiative the US was transferring close to $500 million. Now, next year it will be about $80 million. They have diminished the amount of money transferred from the US to Mexico. It is not only that. There is a lack of confidence and the new rhetoric in Washington does not help this. Jeff sessions is going back to criminalize marijuana and drugs. I believe we are going backwards because we had had some advances. Now it is like going backwards.
>> Ewart saying under the Trump administration relationships have been strained.
>> Yes. Indeed. When Mexican officials heard all the time that there is the Mexican and here's are criminals, it is more difficult for us to cooperate. It seems to me we have to get rid of this nonsense. Mexico and the US must meet each other and this is what our conference is all about, to find out how to effectively cooperate.
>> You would say that would be the overall goal is to figure that out?
>> Yes. And explain the violence in Mexico. Violence is about, there is a lot of domestic violence. We will try to give an idea of how complicated this is in Mexico. We will try to talk about the crisis in the US and then finally how to better cooperate.
>> We spoke with a co-offer of -- author of a report that we are being driven by new drug cartel. Can local officials decrease the number of homicides in Tijuana?
>> We were surprised by the level of violence in Tijuana. This is different than what we have experienced prior. Now, I would say it is not a revolution but there are a lot of homicides and perhaps in the poor districts of marijuana. We have to analyze how to better help Tijuana. We know that economic compromises there. They benefit from working next to each other. A lot of business people go to Tijuana every day and they were worried about the violence and if it could spill over into very good businesses across the border.
>> I will ask you a question, a lot of people who criticized the drug war say that we should simply stop trying to limit supply and focus only on demand in the United States. What is your view on that?
>> In the 1970s there was too much about supply. In the last few years we have made advances and tried to talk about the supply of drugs, also talk about how it was before. It is not only that. For Mexico, some of the things that get officials frustrated is the flow of arms coming into Mexico from the United States. It has not been doing anything to try to restrain all of this coming into Mexico from the selling of drugs here. It is about how to share responsibility on this.
>> Okay. The school of global policy and strategy will host a conference called rethinking the drill -- war on drugs. We have had the director of US Mexican studies.