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Mexican law review

versión On-line ISSN 2448-5306versión impresa ISSN 1870-0578


MARTINEZ VALENZUELA, César. The "War on Drugs" and the "New Strategy": Identity Constructions of the United States, U.S. Drug Users and Mexico. Mex. law rev [online]. 2013, vol.5, n.2, pp.245-275. ISSN 2448-5306.

On narcotics control policy, the Obama Administration's "New Strategy" represents a rupture with the hitherto prevailing narrative of the "War on Drugs," whose origins date back to the Nixon Administration. While the latter emphasized prosecution at home and military cooperation abroad, the former balances education and treatment with law enforcement at the domestic level as it admits U.S. limitations towards Mexico in the international arena. This article employs discourse analysis on particular speech pieces by the U.S. executive branch since 1971. In doing so, itfinds identity constructions of the "self" and the "other" articulating difference signifiers around a nodal point. Henceforth, the War on Drugs depicts an epic scenario in which the United States has been a virtuous and sufficient actor defending American values from irrational criminals while helping its flawed and deficient southern neighbor cope with its own shortcomings. Needless to say, this strategy has reached no decisive achievement and has protractedfor nearly 40 years. On the other hand, the New Strategy portrays the United States as a limited entity providing U.S. teenagers, convalescent drug users and low-level offenders with healthcare and education in order to reduce consumption. Meanwhile, the new U.S. identity acknowledges and underscores its responsibility providing weapons and money fuelling Mexico's narco-trafficking. This reconstruction of identities shows that both neighbors can no longer believe in fairy tales about drug policy and must start addressing their issues of public health and social exclusion as the fallible States they are.

Palabras llave : Drug control policy; White House; US-Mexico relations; organized crime; war on drugs; discourse analysis; Barack Obama; public health.

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