After much criticism coming from legalization activists and the political opposition for his decision not to attend a major UN global drug policy meeting next week, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has reversed course.
Peña Nieto's office released a statement on Friday afternoon announcing that the president will be "presenting Mexico's official position," at the special session of the UN General Assembly in New York on Tuesday.
The statement said the president was able to do this because an official visit to Mexico by the Italian prime minister, Matteo Renzi, had been postponed by a day.
Peña Nieto's change of heart, however, raised suspicions that he was responding to the barrage of criticism received when the government announced, last week, that he would not be attending the meeting.
This was partly because his predecessor, Felipe Calderón, along with the leaders of Guatemala and Colombia, had requested that the special session be brought forward to 2016 from its original date in 2019.
The meeting will focus on possible alternatives to the current prohibitionist global approach to drugs in the context of widespread moves towards liberalization, at least when it comes to marijuana, as well as a growing body of opinion that blames extreme drug-related violence on hardline policies.
Mexico is also inevitably at the center of any discussion of world drug policy given the importance of its drug cartels and the intensity of violence suffered within its drug wars.
The country is also in the midst of a debate over marijuana legalization triggered by a landmark supreme court decision on recreational use.
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