Debating Decriminalizing Drugs
Earlier this month, Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina announced that he would propose to his counterparts in Central America and the United States “analyzing the possibility” of decriminalizing drug commerce as a strategy for tackling the drug wars, fueling the fire of an important debate that has been largely absent from the political sphere.
This announcement comes fresh off the heels of the launch of various promising task force initiatives set in place by Perez Molina to better understand the violence and crime that continue to cripple various Central American nations. Perez Molina’s strategy for dealing with drug violence is a welcome surprise in light of the fact that he ran on an iron fist platform, igniting concern amongst human rights groups that he would implement policies that would only exacerbate drug related crime and violence.
President Mauricio Funes of El Salvador has already reacted positively to Perez Molina’s proposal, and claimed that he’s open to taking the debate to the legislative floor.
Such a proposal would only have a significant impact on the regional drug trade if it were adopted in the United States, as it is where a majority of the drugs produced and transported in Lain America are consumed.
Yet before the debate even began, the United States stifled dialogue by prematurely, and without grounds, claiming that decriminalizing drugs is a threat to “health and public safety.” As numerous reports have shown, the decriminalization of drugs would go a long way towards undermining the power of organized crime, and effectively destabilizing the drug market by eliminating the premiums on drugs that result from illegal production and trafficking.
Perez Molina should be lauded for his effort to open debate on such a controversial solution to the drug wars. Yet without the support of the country that most consumes drugs, decriminalizing drug consumption and possession in Central America will likely do little to change the status quo.