Watershed summit will admit that prohibition has failed, and call for more nuanced and liberalised tactics
A historic meeting of Latin America’s leaders, to be attended by Barack Obama, will hear serving heads of state admit that the war on drugs has been a failure and that alternatives to prohibition must now be found.
The Summit of the Americas, to be held in Cartagena, Colombia is being seen by foreign policy experts as a watershed moment in the redrafting of global drugs policy in favour of a more nuanced and liberalised approach.
Otto PÃ©rez Molina, the president of Guatemala, who as former head of his country’s military intelligence service experienced the power of drug cartels at close hand, is pushing his fellow Latin American leaders to use the summit to endorse a new regional security plan that would see an end to prohibition. In the Observer, PÃ©rez Molina writes: “The prohibition paradigm that inspires mainstream global drug policy today is based on a false premise: that global drug markets can be eradicated.”
We have to find new solutions to Latin America’s drugs nightmare
Narcotics should be legally available ”“ in a highly regulated market, argues the president of Guatemala.
The Guardian, Otto PÃ©rez Molina, April 7
Twenty years ago, I became head of intelligence services in the Guatemalan army. In this capacity, I had to co-ordinate operations with several United States and Latin American agencies dealing with the fight against drug trafficking. In those years, this was already a challenging and complex task. However, Guatemala’s security forces had the capacity to deal with the problem, intercepting drug convoys and arresting drug lords. Probably the most important victory on this front was our sophisticated and discreet intelligence operation that led to the arrest of a prominent Mexican drug lord, who was subsequently sent to Mexico for trial.
None the less, the drug lord stayed in jail only eight years, managing to escape from a high-security prison, something that in itself shows the corrupting tentacles of drug trafficking. Today, this capo is listed among the 10 richest men in Mexico, and one of the richest and most influential men on Earth according to Forbes magazine. Some analysts even consider him the most prominent drug trafficker in the world. His name is JoaquÃn, but he is better known for his nickname: “Chapo” Guzman, head of the Sinaloa cartel.
Three months ago, I became president of Guatemala. And contrary to the good fortunes enjoyed by Guzman, I found that the justice and security systems were not what they had been 20 years earlier. Which led me to ask myself these questions: isn’t it true that we have been fighting the war on drugs these past two decades? Then, how on earth is drug consumption higher and production greater and why is trafficking so widespread?