Former U.S. President Bill Clinton met with President Enrique Peña Nieto in Mexico City and made a surprise apology during his address.
In a speech to an audience of students, entrepreneurs and reporters, Clinton apologized for the impact of his anti-drug policies on Mexico.
“I wish you had no narco-trafficking, but it’s not really your fault,” he said. “Basically, we did too good of a job of taking the transportation out of the air and water, and so we ran it over land. I apologize for that.”
Drug reform campaigner Ethan Nadelmann is appreciative of Clinton’s approach.
“Of course one wishes he’d done the right thing when he was president and had the power to do so, but it’s always better for an ex-president to apologize for his sins than to pretend he never sinned at all,” Nadelmann said.
More importantly the former president’s words could signal a shift in thinking for his wife, who is looking to become president.
“Let’s just hope that Hillary Clinton will be far more supportive of major drug policy reform than she’s been in the past,” Nadelmann said.
The former U.S. President is part of a long list of former politicians who have expressed regret at the drug policy they implemented, or were forced to implement, in office.
Former Mexican President Vicente Fox surprised the country when he called for the full-on legalization of marijuana and added that the same principle applied to all illegal drugs.
Dramatic turnarounds of opinion on drug policy are not restricted to politicians in the Americas. In a 2014 interview, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, who is critical of government drug policy, spoke of the “unheroic cowardice in the British political class” where “people will talk bravely about reforming drugs when they are not in office and the moment they get in, they completely shut up.”