Editors note: We are continuing to translate some of the Spanish language press articles on the War on Drugs and in particular the Summit of the Americas and policy developments in Mexico, Central America, and Colombia including the Mexican election. The press in the United States has largely ignored the War on Drugs discussions held at the summit yesterday. Rather they are focused on the recall of secret service agents from Colombia for cavorting with prostitutes. We feel the summit is important for two reasons. First, decriminalization of drugs could impact policy in the region perhaps bringing peace where there is warfare. Second, any change in policy in Latin America would force the USA to change their policy in incremental steps while not embracing any wholesale change. This is because the political system in the USA can only address one major issue at a time and the Latin American agenda is not on their radar for the foreseeable future. So for those English readers who are trying to following the events from here we offer this translation today from “El Mercurio”. You should know that “El Mercurio” is considered to be a conservative newspaper mainly read by the upper classes in Chile. So they are not going to write something with a progressive slant.
The war on drugs with tens of thousands of deaths in Latin America plus the exclusion of Cuba from the summit drew the attention of 31 world leaders at the Summit of the Americas which will be closed out today in Cartagena.
At the onset of the summit, the American president, Barack Obama, had to listen to complaints coming from two of his Latin American colleagues where the hosting government of Colombia and their president Juan Manual Santos, called on the continents to build bridges and leave behind idealogical disputes.
In the kickoff speech, the host President Santos invited the participating nations ”at the highest level” to reflect upon the War on Drugs first launched in 1971 by the US President Richard Nixon and to contemplate “different scenarios and possibilities to confront this challenge with better effect”.
Before the opening of the summit, Obama, who is opposed to the proposal to decriminalize drugs put forth by the Guatemala President Otto Pérez Molina, said yesterday “we need to weigh the evidence and have a debate”.
“We cannot look at the topic without considering the demand for drugs coming from the USA” and must work with countries like Mexico “not only in drugs that come North but also in the weapons and money which is flowing South from the USA,” said Obama.
Santos, whose country is the principal coca leave grower which is the principal ingredient in cocaine, admitted the need to open the discussion over the policies on the War on Drugs”.
“Colombia and many other countries in the region believe that now is the time to open up the discussion”, said Santos,
The War on Drugs have left 50,000 deaths in 5 years in Mexico and 20,000 in Central America just last year, not to mention the tens of thousands of deaths in other countries in the region also for the violence in the cities in which the cocaine is destined.
Note: the rest of the article deal with Cuba’s exclusion from the Summit at the insistence of the USA. The Colombian President said this will be the last summit without Cuba present. The reason that Cuba is not invited to these summits is because the expatriate Cuban community living in South Florida is opposed to that and they are a strong political force in Florida.
Date: 15 April 2012
translated from: El Mercurio page A-4