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Guatemala President Wants Drug Legalization in Central America

GUATEMALA CITY – The ex-general who campaigned for the Guatemalan presidency on a platform of crushing crime with an iron fist is now pushing a regional debate on legalizing drugs.

U.S. inability to control illegal drug consumption forces Guatemala to discuss legalizing the use and transport of drugs, President Otto Pérez Molina said Monday at a security meeting with Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes.

Pérez said he will try to win regional support for drug legalization at a summit of Central American leaders next month. He got his first public support from Funes on Monday, who said he too is willing to consider legalization.

"We're bringing the issue up for debate. Today's meeting is intended to strengthen our methods of fighting organized crime," Perez said with Funes. "But if drug consumption isn't reduced, the problem will continue."

Perez's proposal comes as drug cartels have taken over large swathes of Guatemala and other Central American countries, fueling some of the highest murder rates in the world. A May 2011 report by the U.S. Congressional Research Service said that 95 percent of all cocaine entering the United States flows through Mexico and its waters, with 60 percent of that cocaine having first transited through Central America.

In just a month in office, Perez has transformed himself from one of Latin America's toughest advocates of military action against drug cartels to one of the region's strongest voices for drug legalization. His stance provoked strong criticism from the United States over the weekend, and intense discussion inside the country, where Guatemalans argued for and against his proposal in the streets and on radio talk shows.

One analyst said Perez's about-face could be designed to pressure the U.S. into providing military aid, currently banned by the U.S. Congress because of past human rights abuses.

"This is kind of like a shot across the bow, saying if you don't help us, this is what we can do," said Anita Isaacs, a Guatemala expert and professor of political science at Haverford College.

But Perez's backers said the change grew out of the realization that if demand continues in the U.S., the small country will never have the resources to fight the flow of illegal drugs from producers in South America to the world's largest consumer market in the U.S.

"Are we going to be responsible to put up a war against the cartels if we don't produce the drugs or consume the drugs? We're just a corridor of illegality," Eduardo Stein, a former Guatemalan vice president who headed Perez's transition team.

"The issue of drug trafficking and consumption is not on the North American political agenda. The issue of drugs in the U.S. is very marginalized, while for Guatemala and the rest of Central America it's very central," he added.

A growing number of former Latin American leaders have come out in favor of legalization, saying the U.S. efforts to fight drug trafficking in Latin America have only caused more violence and sucked up resources.

Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos has said he would be open to legalization if the entire world agreed.

"It's a theme that must be addressed," Colombia's Foreign Minister Maria Holguin told reporters in Cartegena Monday. "The war on drugs definitely hasn't been the success it should be and it's something the countries should discuss."

Honduras, another major transit country, has never formally considered legalization. Mexico President Felipe Calderon has said it wouldn't make sense to legalize drugs in the region as long as they remain illegal in the U.S.

Perez, 61, was elected in November and took office last month on a platform of cracking down on the country's rampant crime, a product of gang and cartel violence, along with the legacy of a bloody 1960-1996 civil war.

Army, police and paramilitary are blamed for killing the vast majority of 200,000 victims, most of whom were Mayan.

More than half of Guatemalans live in poverty in a nation of 14 million overrun by organized crime and Mexican drug cartels. Perez's predecessor, former President Alvaro Colom, sent troops to retake some provinces from the Zetas drug gang.



sources http://www.insightcrime.org/insight-latest-news/item/2225-can-guatemalas-president-reconcile-iron-fist-with-drug-legalization


Added: Feb-18-2012 Occurred On: Feb-14-2012
By: vjiced
In:
World News
Tags: legalize it, 420, drugs
Location: Guatemala (load item map)
Views: 1848 | Comments: 22 | Votes: 0 | Favorites: 0 | Shared: 0 | Updates: 0 | Times used in channels: 2
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  • The drugs cartels will not be happy about this...

    Posted Feb-18-2012 By 

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  • would save a lot of lives for sure

    Posted Feb-18-2012 By 

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  • IT'S TIME TO LEGALIZE IT LIVELEAKERS !!!

    Posted Feb-18-2012 By 

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  • Smart man.

    Prohibition never worked!!!!!!!!!!!

    Posted Feb-18-2012 By 

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  • How come smaller and presumably less developed countries are often so far ahead of certain other *coughworldpowershawk* countries?

    Posted Feb-18-2012 By 

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  • EXACTLY,..! take the wind out of their Sales,..lol
    Only a few States in America or should I say a few Counties have the right idea,.
    and those Counties will prosper by letting Freedom Ring!!
    the rest will have to sit back and learn still,.
    those wise Counties or States will start to see an increase Tax money to spend on job creating endeavors,just by letting people be free,..at least with weed,.

    Posted Feb-18-2012 By 

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  • personally I think Alcohol is ten times worse then most drugs out there,..and yet,they let a 21 tear old kid buy a bottle of 151 rum and get behind a wheel of a vehicle,.
    go figure,.

    Posted Feb-18-2012 By 

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    • @SharkGuy


      I got a dwi a couple of yrs ago....and I hate liquor. I love mary jane and would never have gotten the DWI if I could legally pursue it. A sad reality.

      Posted Feb-18-2012 By 

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    • @AxisofEvil
      yep,.
      I gave up the liquor a few years ago,didn't drink much then,just at social events,don't miss it a bit,
      wish I could say the same for cigs,
      I hate these things,lol
      been burning the herb my whole life,never had a problem with getting ill from it or any repercussions ,and actually curbs anxiety and many other conditions,.
      cheers!

      Posted Feb-18-2012 By 

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  • good on this guy! it's already common knowledge prohibition fails. Canada will soon follow your path Mr. Guatemala

    Posted Feb-18-2012 By 

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  • They should only legalize marijuana because I was told that the cartels make most of their profits off of it... Cocaine, Meth, heroin, and all the other hardcore drugs should remain illegal though. They ought to crack down on the hardcore drug dealers and addicts who are destroying their own and other peoples lives.

    Even if legalized, Marijuana can also destroy lives, this must be understood. It should be regulated like alcohol or made available only through a prescription. Some may say that it More..

    Posted Feb-29-2012 By 

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  • Just marijuana, thats it. Sounds good.

    Posted Mar-1-2012 By 

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  • So US politicians are doing a good job heh

    Posted Feb-18-2012 By 

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  • Legalization is one of the few things that could turn the U.S. around by jobs growth, taxation of products and services, reduce incarcerations, the list is endless. Would there be unintended consequences; sure, nothing bold is without risks and problems. But the NWO would never agree to it, so it's moot.

    Posted Feb-18-2012 By 

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    • @joe prole Ain't going to create that many jobs. Then most people are going to be too high to go to work so there might be a lot of opening when they lose their jobs. Also you think people are going to pay $20 or $50 on a small bag of weed or are they going to pay $5 that is still going to be smuggled in. Also you can grow your own weed. That means NO EXTRA JOBS or EXTRA INCOME in taxes!

      Posted Feb-18-2012 By 

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  • alot of people, have problems, paying for someone else's education, healthcare, and social services, but no one has a problem with some one deciding on there own free well to do drugs?, they get caught, and go to jail for about 60k a year? and this seems to bother no one? paying for someones entire lives in some cases?

    Posted Feb-18-2012 By 

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  • You want to watch what you say Mr. President, the Yanks will have you out of office in no time, democratically elected or no.

    Posted Feb-18-2012 By 

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    • @markwheatley38 What the fuck are you talking about ?? Yanks aint gonna do shit. Yanks dont run shit. They cant even run their own country.

      Posted Feb-18-2012 By 

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    • @UnleashedWarlord What? what about in the 80s with the contra drug wars and sandinistas in nicaragua.O ya and the 90s with the zapatistas?The guy with the 3 thumbs down is right.Imagine if drugs were legal in guatemala how easy they would flow into the states.Yes america would get involved bigtime!

      Posted Feb-18-2012 By 

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    • @Btwix You are talking about 80's and 90's ... you seem to have forgotten that we are in 2012 ... times are different, A LOT different.

      Posted Feb-18-2012 By 

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