When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Pro-legalization rally in Uruguay
Pro-legalization rally in Uruguay
Antonio Ladra

MONTEVIDEO – Uruguayan President José “Pepe” Mujica placed his country in the global drug-policy spotlight when he presented a bill earlier this year seeking to decriminalize marijuana.

Many observers – including Nobel Prize winning novelist Mario Vargas Llosa of Peru – pointed to the move as an example of what countries can do to prevent themselves from becoming “narco-states.”

How things look from the outside, however, is one thing. How the decriminalization push is playing out within Uruguay is quite another. One thing Mujica apparently didn’t factor into account was his predecessor, former President Tabaré Vázquez (2005-2010), who – although he hasn’t said so explicitly – has begun taking concrete steps to return to the presidency. Both Vázquez and Mujica are members of the left-wing Broad Front political party.

Vázquez doesn’t talk very often. Unlike Mujica, the ex-president keeps his public appearances to a minimum. But when he does decide to voice an opinion, his words can be like political missiles. Comments he made this past week to a group of high school students in the southwestern city of Colonia were a case in point.

“You shouldn’t use marijuana. Simply and plainly, you shouldn’t use it,” he told the students. “There are some countries that liberalized marijuana use decades ago. Now they’re having to rewind, because the experiences weren’t good.”

Vázquez went on to say that: “If legalizing marijuana helps keep people from using other drugs, then great. But that has yet to be demonstrated. There’s no such thing as a light psychotropic drug. They all cause damage.”

Technically speaking, Vázquez didn’t go to Colonia as a politician, but rather as an oncologist. The visit was part of a tour the medically trained ex-president embarked on to promote “Crónica de un mal amigo” (Chronicle of a Bad Friend), a book he wrote on cancer.

Regardless, for the Mujica administration – which is currently organizing a series of debates to drum up support for the legalization bill – Vázquez’s words were like a bucket of cold water. Mujica submitted the legislation to Congress this past August. The goal of the bill, according to its government backers, is to take drug dealers out of the equation and to treat marijuana users not as criminals, but as people with an illness.

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!

Members of the search and rescue team from Miami search the rubble for missing persons at Fort Myers Beach, after Florida was hit by Hurricane Ian.

Sophia Constantino, Laure Gautherin, Anne-Sophie Goninet

👋 Shlamaloukh!*

Welcome to Tuesday, where North Korea reportedly fires a missile over Japan for the first time in five years, Ukrainian President Zelensky signs a decree vowing to never negotiate with Russia while Putin is in power, and a lottery win raises eyebrows in the Philippines. Meanwhile, Argentine daily Clarin looks at how the translation of a Bible in an indigenous language in Chile has sparked a debate over the links between language, colonialism and cultural imposition.

[*Assyrian, Syria]

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
  • $2.90/month or $19.90/year. No hidden charges. Cancel anytime.
Already a subscriber? Log in
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ