Former Foreign Relations Secretary Jorge Castañeda said in an interview published by the Brazilian press that Mexico should enact a marijuana law like the one passed by Uruguayan lawmakers on July 31 as part of an effort to fight drug trafficking and drug abuse.

"I believe the law should be brought to Mexico and the country's political sectors are already debating it because it is undeniable that the prohibition policies did not have an effect," Castañeda, who served as Mexican foreign relations secretary from 2000 to 2002, told Folha de Sao Paulo.

The Uruguayan Chamber of Deputies approved a bill backed by President Jose Mujica that allows the regulated cultivation, distribution and sale of marijuana.

The legislation is awaiting approval in the Senate and passage is expected before the end of the year.

The Uruguayan government's strategy calls for making it easier to acquire soft drugs, like marijuana, while punishing and making it more difficult to use hard drugs, such as coca paste, which entered Uruguay in 2002 and led to a wave of robberies and violence, officials said.

Castañeda also commented on the economic outlook for Mexico, which some are referring to as the "Aztec tiger" in the wake of its strong recent economic growth.

"I think that's a very efficient propaganda strategy on the part of the government, but it has nothing to do with the real situation," Castañeda said.

Mexico "is a country with serious social problems" even though the gross domestic product has posted strong annual growth of 4 percent, the writer and politician said.

"We are in a civil war that has no end and have economic numbers that are not so positive in various areas," Castañeda said. EFE