San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Guatemalan president ponders drug legalization to curb violence

GUATEMALA CITY – On Monday, newly inaugurated Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina announced that he and other Latin American leaders would consider drug decriminalization to fight trafficking in the region. 

The Guatemalan president made the statement as Central America leaders seek to curb multinational cartels, such as Los Zetas and the Sinaloa Cartel, which traffic billions of dollars of illicit drugs and cause excessive violence in the region.

Pérez Molina first made the statement on a radio program Saturday, sparking controversy in Guatemala and abroad. Like many other proponents of drug legalization, Pérez Molina said decriminalization could shift police and military focus from petty drug users to the leaders of cartels that move billions of dollars of cocaine and other illicit drugs through the country each year.

The U.S. Embassy in Guatemala was quick to respond with a statement on their website Sunday evening, which outright rejected such a policy. “The United States continues to oppose such measures because evidence shows that our shared drug problem is a major public health and safety threat,” the embassy statement said. 

See Friday’s upcoming edition of The Tico Times for the full story.

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