International

Mexican poppy producing state

pushes to decriminalize opium

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Political leaders from Mexico’s main heroin-producing state are pushing the federal government to legalize opium production for pharmaceutical use in a move they hope will reduce violence and help local farmers.

Legislators in Guerrero state voted Friday to send an initiative to the Mexican Senate for further debate, since the proposal to legitimize opium output would require changes to federal health and penal codes.

Incoming Interior Minister Olga Sanchez has expressed support for nationwide legalization of opium production for medical purposes after President-elect Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador takes office in December.

The mountainous state of Guerrero, on Mexico’s southern Pacific Coast, is home to most of the poppy bulbs that yield heroin consumed in the U.S.

Guerrero state legislator Ricardo Mejia said an estimated 120,000 people cultivate poppy in poor, isolated communities across the state. A legal channel to sell sticky poppy sap could offer growers more stable incomes, he argues.

Brazil to send troops to town

bordering Venezuela

SAO PAULO (AP) — The Brazilian government plans to send troops to the border town of Pacaraima after residents there attacked Venezuelan migrants.

Government-run news agency Agencia Brasil said Sunday that the Public Security Ministry plans to send at least 60 soldiers of the elite National Force to Pacaraima. Calls to the ministry for details went unanswered.

Pacaraima is a major border crossing with Venezuela, where economic and political turmoil has driven tens of thousands to cross into Brazil over the past few years.

Authorities have said that Saturday’s violence erupted after a local storeowner was robbed, stabbed and beaten in an assault blamed on four migrants.

Groups of angry residents then roamed the town hurling rocks at the immigrants and setting fire to their belongings.

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