Apr 6

Past Event

Drugs and Democracy: Toward a Paradigm Shift



  • New Policies to Stem Illegal Drug Industry Needed

    Mauricio Cardenas calls for new policies to stem the burgeoning illegal drug industry, with greater emphasis on ending drug usage and less effort invested in eradication programs.

    Mauricio Cárdenas

  • Fernando Henrique Cardoso

    Cardoso points to the two most critical recommendations within the report: stemming organized crime associated with the drug trade and providing more education about the dangers of drug use.

    Mauricio Cárdenas

  • Cesar Gaviria

    Gaviria calls on the United States to increase its drug education and addiction programs, stating that these efforts are the most important part of any anti-drug initiative.

    Mauricio Cárdenas

  • Illegal Drugs a Moral Debate for U.S.

    Casas-Zamora says the debate about illegal drugs has become a moral debate in the U.S., with many policymakers and stakeholders calling for tough punitive action against offenders.

    Kevin Casas-Zamora

  • Jose Miguel Insulza

    Insulza says drug interdiction is important and is currently well-funded, but he stresses that governments should allocate more money for treatment and drug education.

    Mauricio Cárdenas

  • John Walters

    Walters countered the assertion that the U.S. government does little to help drug users, pointing to the considerable number of outreach and treatment programs for those in need of help.

    Mauricio Cárdenas


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Violence and the organized crime associated with the narcotics trade are critical problems in Latin America. Confronted with a situation that is growing worse by the day, it is imperative to reevaluate and update the strategy pursued in the region over the past 30 years.

On April 6, the Brookings Institution hosted former President of Brazil Fernando Henrique Cardoso and former President of Colombia César Gaviria for the U.S. release of the report “Drugs and Democracy: Toward a Paradigm Shift” by the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy. As co-presidents of the Commission, Presidents Cardoso and Gaviria presented findings of the report and discussed its recommendations for reducing harm caused by illegal narcotics to people, societies and public institutions. Mauricio Cárdenas, senior fellow and director of the Latin America Initiative at Brookings, moderated the discussion.

Following their remarks, a panel of experts evaluated the report’s recommendations. Panelists included Kevin Casas-Zamora, Brookings Latin America Initiative senior fellow; José Miguel Insulza, secretary general at the Organization of American States; and John Walters, executive vice president at the Hudson Institute. Moisés Naím, editor-in-chief of Foreign Policy magazine, moderated the discussion.

Event Agenda

  • Session 1

    • Mauricio Cárdenas


      Senior Fellow

    • Fernando Henrique Cardoso

      Co-president, Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy

      Former President of Brazil

    • César Gaviria

      Co-president, Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy

      Former President of Colombia

  • Session 2

    • Moisés Naím

      Editor-in-chief, Foreign Policy magazine

    • José Miguel Insulza

      Secretary General, Organization of American States

    • John Walters

      Executive Vice President, Hudson Institute


April 6, 2009

10:00 AM - 11:30 AM EDT

The Brookings Institution

Falk Auditorium

1775 Massachusetts Ave., NW


For More Information

Brookings Office of Communications

(202) 797-6105