July 9  The former president of Mexico, Vicente Fox, had no aides or security guards with him at the Sir Francis Drake hotel in San Francisco yesterday morning when he took part in an “international summit meeting” with some norteamericano advocates of marijuana legalization. Harborside Health Center’s Steve DeAngelo had organized the event to provide a pr boost for a conference that Fox and Jamen Shively will be putting on in Mexico July 18-20. Fox bemoaned his country’s avoidance of the subject. “The issue is forbidden,” he said matter-of-factly.

Recalling that Tom Hayden had spoken admiringly of Javier Sicilia’s Caravan for Peace NYC / Caravana por la paz Nueva York, your correspondent suggested to Fox that Sicilia —a Mexican poet who lost a son to drug violence— might be a useful ally. Fox looked thoughtful and said (paraphrase), “He is at the far liberal end of the spectrum, but yes, he should be approached. He always attracts the media.” Since no aides were punching this thought into their tablets, I’m not sure it will be acted on.

Fox would like to see the legalization of all drug on moral grounds. He admires the approach adopted in Portugal. People have a right to decide what to take into their bodies, he said, as long as they’re not harming others. He was soft-spoken, intelligent, and real. He joked about prohibition failing in the Garden of Eden. 

There is a book to be written about “Colin Powell Syndrome” —political leaders who, immediately after leaving office, urge their successors to do the right thing. Fox was very forthright about his situation. “I wouldn’t be here if I were president,” he said. “There are too many interests you have to take into account.” And he made a gesture with his arms as if to show the forces that had been pressing in on him. 

Vicente Fox looks like a matinee idol. He seems to have lost weight since leaving office… He said that many Mexicans have canceled their annual visits home due to the economy and hassles at the border. 

The press conference following the “summit” attracted the all-important Telemundo News camera. DeAngelo MCed  His key point was that U.S. drug prohibition provides the financial incentive for the gang warfare in Mexico. “Forty deaths every single day,” he reminded all within range. 

Washington State legislator Roger Goodman spoke briefly —and optimistically— about the newly proposed regulations that would legalize marijuana sales in 2014.