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Region: drug war drags on

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Violence related to drug trafficking continues to be a major threat to the political and economic stability of Central America.

Business cannot prosper in areas where the de facto authority is organized crime, as the Mexican defense minister said recently.

The Presidents of Guatemala and Costa Rica in the past few months have called for a discussion on the potential benefits of legalization.

But the rest of the region is reluctant to join in the debate, at least partly out of a concern that the United States would deport more workers from countries, which end their participation in the drug war, to which Washington is still committed.

Salvadorans and Hondurans in particular depend on the continued availability of Temporary Protected Status, under which they can work legally in the United States.

Besides Costa Rica’s Laura Chinchilla, only Panama's Ricardo Martinelli showed up at last week's meeting of regional leaders, whose agenda included the trafficking issue.

The conference was a preliminary to next month’s Summit of the Americas, which will be chaired by Guatemala’s Otto Pérez.

Honduras’ Porfirio Lobo, Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega, and El Salvador’s Mauricio Funes, stayed home.

Meanwhile, parts of the region continue to face levels of violence, not seen since the civil wars of the 1970s.