Guatemala’s President Leading the Way in International Drug Policy Reform

Guatemala has been particularly affected by the war on drugs because of its location on the most transited drug-trafficking route in the world. It has become a battleground between the two dominant Mexican drug cartels, the Sinaloa Cartel and the brutal and much feared Los Zetas. The two cartels are caught in a ferocious fight for control of the Caribbean and the Pacific routes, with local populations caught in the middle. The cartels largely outgun the police and army, and corrupt all institutions, starting with the justice system. Los Zetas notoriously recruit within the Kaibiles, the elite commando of the Guatemalan Military.

Since taking office in January 2012, Guatemalan president Otto Perez Molina has been quite blunt in his assessment of the failure of the war on drugs, calling relentlessly for drug policy reform, advocating a regulatory approach to drugs rather than the extremes of a full-blown war on drugs or free-market legalization. Such positions have propelled him and his impoverished country on the world scene, where he is so far the first and lone head of state pushing openly and forcefully for global drug policy reform. As such, he is seen as a figurehead of the drug policy reform movement.

During a press conference on the opening day of World Economic Forum, Perez Molina, the first Guatemalan president to be invited to Davos as a speaker, called for a new approach toward regulating drugs, implemented “on a scientific basis” and geared at reducing the harms associated with the illegal drug trade. “Prohibition, this war on drugs, has seen cartels grow and the results are not what we looked for … There is a new trend towards drugs now – not war, but a new perspective and a different way of dealing with the problem,” declared Perez Molina.

– Read the entire article at AlterNet.