April 15th, 2010
08:02 AM ET
13 years ago

Michelle Obama calls for U.S. to lower demand for drugs from Mexico

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/04/15/art.obamazavala.0414.gi.jpg caption ="First Lady Michelle Obama met with her Mexican counterpart, Margarita Zavala de Calderon, on Wednesday."]MEXICO CITY, Mexico (CNN) - The United States needs to do more to reduce demand for illegal drugs if it wants to help reduce the violence that has wracked its southern neighbor, Michelle Obama said Wednesday.

The first lady of the United States made that comment after meeting with her Mexican counterpart, Margarita Zavala de Calderon, whose "New Life Centers" help with prevention and education so that fewer young people will become addicted.

"We need to do more of the same," said Obama, who cited education and opportunity as key elements to any successful anti-drug campaign.

"What we do know in both countries is that, if young people have opportunities, if they know that they're going to get a solid education, perhaps go to college or at least get a job that's going to pay a wage that is going to allow them to live a decent life and care for their families and grandchildren, they're going to make the better choice.

"But so often, in our countries, those opportunities don't exist," she told CNN en Espanol's Juan Carlos Lopez.

More than 22,000 people have died in drug violence since Mexican President Felipe Calderon declared war on narcotrafficking cartels in December 2006, a government report said Tuesday.

Obama urged those who are able to attend universities and go on to good jobs to help others achieve similar goals.

"When we look at these young people who are going to be the next leaders, when they start accessing that power, I want them to be thinking about how they're opening up doors for others," she said.

Working-class children need to get the message that college is for them, too, she said. "We miss out on so much talent and opportunity because kids count themselves out because they think, 'I can't do this, this isn't for me, I don't belong here.'

"My message to them is that 'You do.'"

Asked how she oversees her two daughters' use of social networking computer Web sites, Obama said the family has established rules: no computer, telephones or television during the week.

And the first parents "ask a lot of questions about what our kids are doing when they're on the computer."

Obama said she tried not to get "bogged down" by the negativity that comes with the job held by her husband, U.S. President Barack Obama.

"You keep your eyes on the prize," she said. "And the prize is creating a better world for our children and our grandchildren because they are coming. They're coming and they need a clean environment, they need strong education systems, they need to ensure that the old world grudges won't put us at risk in our communities."

Obama reiterated her husband's stated belief that immigration laws should be changed, but said the White House can't act alone in effecting change. "The truth is that, in the United States, it takes both parties in Congress to also be on that same page," she said. "We need Republicans and Democrats to support it as well."

Filed under: Mexico • Michelle Obama
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Steve

    Good call, Michelle. Just wish it away and everyone will suddenly stop wanting to use drugs.

    Kinda like the deficit. Just wish it away and *poof*, it's gone!

    April 15, 2010 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  2. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    The FLOTUS is right on point. The war on drugs is lost. There is more availability today of all types of street drugs than 15 years ago. The $500million dollars that the US gives Mexico towards deterring the flow of drugs into both countries has had minimal to no impact.We must ramp up the education aspect of the war and increase opportunities to youth so that they may opt out of making poor life choices. As sad as it sounds, the reality is that we're not only facing combat in drug use, but also in drug dealing as a way of life.

    April 15, 2010 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  3. Ben in Texas

    The classic way to reduce demand is to increase supply...

    April 15, 2010 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  4. jerseylou

    First Lady is doing a good job so far,but the job is to big when it just comes to words. I do know for a fact that Mexico is a main supplier of illegal drugs coming into this country. And they have few drug addicts walking their streets,seems to be a connection.

    April 15, 2010 09:18 am at 9:18 am |
  5. Charles

    Great..legalize marijuana at the federal level, allow folks to grow their own, and the supply of this drug from Mexico will dry up. Tax the sale in the US and use the money go after the narcotrafficers.

    Mexican weed is no good anyway

    April 15, 2010 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  6. Randolph Carter, I'm no expert but...

    Legalizing, regulating and taxing pot sure would solve a lot of problems. But what do I know? I'm no expert. Have a nice day!

    April 15, 2010 09:30 am at 9:30 am |