On Saturday February 11th, Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina declared that, following discussions with Colombian President Santos, he will present a proposal for drug legalization in Central America at the April 14-15 Summit of the Americas. Guatemalan Vice-President Roxana Baldetti will begin a tour of Central America to discuss the proposal with regional leaders and garner support for it, starting with Panama, Costa Rica and Salvador on February 29th. Unsurprisingly, the move was greeted by a quick rebuke from the US government.
President Molina’s initiative is unprecedented and marks the first time since the launching of the War on Drugs by Richard Nixon in 1971 that a foreign head of state actively challenges the US-led policies of drug prohibition and try to build a coalition against it.
A former general of the Guatemalan army, President Molina has impeccable credentials to launch such a move: he was elected in November 2011 on a law-and-order platform, pledging to restore security to the country. Guatemala is on the major transit route from Colombia to the US and drug violence has exploded there over the past few years, turning this already impoverished and unstable country into one of the most dangerous countries in the world.
We all need to show our support to President Molina and his potential Latin American allies. We also need to put pressure on the Obama administration to ensure that it doesn’t stall Molina’s proposal, and that it allows a truthful debate to take place at the April 14-15 Summit of the Americas and beyond.
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- Guatemala Prez to Propose Legalizing Drugs (abcnews.go.com)
- Guatemalan army joins drugs fight (bbc.co.uk)
- Guatemala president mulls drugs legalization (cbc.ca)
- Guatemalan President to propose legalizing drugs (cbsnews.com)
- Legalizing drugs gains ground in Latin America (csmonitor.com)