War on Drugs — 07 April 2012

Even since 1971 when the ex President of the USA signalled that the “number one enemy” of the United States was the drugs coming over the borders, the call for the “war on drugs” has been maintained as a constant political theme in the USA, that in spite of the billions of dollar invested has not yielded concrete results and has directly compromised the Latin America nations. 40 years later, nevertheless, these Latin American nations are ready, for the first time and at the highest levels, with an unprecedented degree of consensus, to question the strategy used to confront the problem. The VI Summit of the Americas is the scene selected to begin the thorny debate around the problem and to look for alternatives including the decriminalization of drugs.

“This is the moment to raise the issue, absolutely. I believe that 2012 will pass down in history as the year in which began the important transition in thinking about the war on drugs”, said Moisés Naím, columnist and expert from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

“For the first time we are going to see the fracture in the thinking bases on two pillar: the war on drugs does not work yet we cannot change anything. We are going to breakthrough this contradiction. At the least this will allow the possibility to think about implementing other options to the politics of prohibition and the total war on drugs. To date anyone who broached the submit was denounced as an accomplise of the drug traffickers”, added Naím.

The debate was included in the agenda by the President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, who is hosting the summit, who has said that he is “open to whatever option would be better than what he have today. I believe we have the moral duty as a country to open this discussion”, recognizing the desired express by several Central American nations headed by Guatemala who has seen the drug cartels move their operations from Mexico to the region worsening the violence that today is the most violent region in the world with 33 murders for each 100,000 in the region with Honduras suffering the worst at 85 murders for each 100,000 people. The world wide average is 8.8 for each 100,000 people.

“The validity to put this idea at the center of the debate is that is proponents, like México, Guatemala, and Colombia are at the front lines. These are nations who find themselves on the battlefield in the war on drugs”, said Juan Gabriel Tokatlian, expert in Latin American in the University of Torcuato di Tella, who notes that the Summit of the Americas today is practically the only forum “with the potential for a breakthrough in the relations between the USA and Latin America. If we look at all of the nations who have suffered under this problem–who see that is it expanding, who are trying to navigate this problem–it appears to me to be a reasonable moral basis to take serious the the desire to discuss the issue. In addition, the global context demands it.

The White House has agreed to discuss the strategy but reluctantly. At the recent Summit of Central American Integration (SICA), the Vice President of the USA, Joe Biden, said that the USA is “open to a genuine debate”, but made clear that nations opposition to the decriminalization of drugs.

According to Arturo Valenzuela, former sub-secretry of State for Latin America for Obama, “The USA has no problem to enter into discussions over this subject, for better or worse, this is in the spirit of cooperation to follow to overcome the problems which face us all”. He explains that Washington has changed “substantially” its anti drug strategy from being one focused just on eradication and “sanction those nations who would not cooperated.”

“Everything has changed. Today there are two basic notions on drug policy which that it must be a cooperation, that we must work together and it can no longer just be the heavy hand of the USA dictating policy.”

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date: 7 april 2012
translated from: http://diario.elmercurio.com/2012/04/07/_portada/_portada/noticias/4E7CE69F-C9B9-4700-9A6F-E7186F83DCBC.htm?id={4E7CE69F-C9B9-4700-9A6F-E7186F83DCBC}

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