Guatemala Prez: Regulate the 'War on Drugs' to Death

Pérez Molina says experience proves drugs health issue, not criminal
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 8, 2012 6:07 AM CDT
Guatemala Prez: Regulate the 'War on Drugs' to Death
Guatemala's President Otto Perez Molina speaks during a presidential summit with Central American leaders in Antigua, Guatemala, Saturday March 24, 2012.   (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

Guatemala's President Otto Pérez Molina, due to his old job as head of intelligence services of the army, has been at the forefront of his country's drug war for more than 20 years. But despite "decades of big arrests and the seizure of tons of drugs," Pérez Molina writes in the Guardian, "consumption and production of damaging substances are booming." His solution? Not so much legalization—though he's certainly suggested as much in the past—as regulation, as with alcohol and tobacco. Drugs are "a public health issue that, awkwardly, has been transformed into a criminal justice problem."

The key, according to the president, is dropping "ideology" for a focus on how to "diminish the violence generated by drug abuse." Pérez Molina promises Guatemala will uphold its international commitments, however his government is not willing "to continue as dumb witnesses to a global self-deceit." And with a Summits of the Americas meeting coming this week in Colombia, Pérez Molina says it is no coincidence that the leaders most interested in his proposals are those who have also served in similar security and defense roles as he has. "Those of us who have experience on security matters know what we are talking about," he said. (More Otto Perez Molina stories.)

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