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Region: drug discussion

Thursday, March 15, 2012

WHAT The drug politics of the region in recent weeks have become as complicated as an international smuggling route, following calls by the Presidents of Guatemala and Costa Rica, for a debate on the possibility of legalizing the trade in marijuana and cocaine.

Otto Perez and Laura Chincilla may believe that legalizing the business at a national level would reduce drug-related crime, since local security forces would no longer be at war with traffickers. Another explanation is that neither leader expects that drug decriminalization will happen, but that holding out the possibility that this happens, will make the United States understand that Central America cannot fight the drug trade with its limited resources, and that Washington needs to do more to support local authorities. The United States remains the biggest consumer of Latin American marijuana and cocaine.

WHAT NEXT The presidents of Central America, along with Barack Obama and those of the rest of the hemisphere, will gather in Cartagena, Colombia, on April 14-15, for the fifth summit of the Organization of American States. The agenda will include the drug war, and how it should be managed. One option is to let it grind on, without ever declaring victory. Another involves the United States putting more resources into the battle. A third, which has never yet been taken seriously, is that it is time for a fresh look at the issue.

For more information, please contact Esteban Alvarez, at [email protected]