U.S. Says that Fighting Drug Use Reduces Violence in Latin America

By Dialogo
July 29, 2009

Mexico City, 27 July (EFE).- U.S. drug czar Gil Kerlikowske, speaking today in the Mexican capital, affirmed that preventing and treating addictions, particularly with regard to the use of narcotics, “is fundamental” for reducing violence caused by drug trafficking in Latin America. “When we put more emphasis on prevention and treatment, we’re not only helping our own country (the U.S.); we’re also helping to reduce violence” in the region, said the director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, who is on a four-day visit to Mexico. “If we cut down on the use of drugs, we will also be able to cut down on violence and crime in Mexico and in Latin America,” Kerlikowske said while touring a treatment center for addicted minors, where he was accompanied by Mexico’s first lady, Margarita Zavala, and the Mexican Secretary of Health, José Ángel Córdova. The official affirmed that U.S. policy in the fight against drugs seeks to understand, appreciate, and support work done in other countries. He commented that 20 million individuals over twelve years of age used drugs in the last month in the United States, and around 23 million Americans need treatment. “Only ten percent of these people end up in treatment, in part because it’s not available, and because people think they don’t need it,” he added. Mexico’s first lady, Margarita Zavala, agreed that the fight against drugs is fundamental because “drug use generates violence, destroys families, and destroys society.” During the event Iris Vianney Velázquez Martínez, a young patient at the New Life Center, affirmed that she is addicted to alcohol and that with the treatment she has received, she has learned how to make decisions and how to avoid hurting those she loves the most. In the country there are 320 centers like New Life which also provide outpatient services for early detection and prompt treatment of addictions.
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