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Guatemalan president proposes legal regulation of illicit drugs

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
September 27th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

In an unconventional move, Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina has proposed the legal regulation of illicit drugs at the United Nations General Assembly. Perhaps reflecting upon Mexico's disastrous "war on drugs" that saw countless unarmed civilians being swept away in violence and killed, Molina says that previous attempts have failed Central America. Molina added that legalization should be considered as an alternative way to fight drug-related crime internationally.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Molina originally came to power in 2011 on the promise of crushing organized crime. A former army general, he pledged high-security prisons, an increased police force and the deployment of soldiers in the fight against drug gangs. As was the case with Mexico, Guatemala was transformed into one of the most violent places in the world.

The Guatemalan leader renewed his calls this week for a new global strategy on drugs, one that emerges from an inclusive global discussion. He called on the U.N. to reassess policy at a special session on drugs in 2016.

"Since the start of my government, we have clearly affirmed that the war on drugs has not yielded the desired results," Molina told the General Assembly. "We cannot keep on doing the same thing and expecting different results."

Molina says that leaders must seek innovative approaches to drug use, ones centered on public health and addiction prevention. He also said that priority must be given to reducing the social violence associated with drugs and respecting human rights.

He also lauded citizens in the states of Colorado and Washington for their "visionary decision" to approve measures last November legalizing the recreational use of marijuana.

"I think he correctly sees himself playing an historic role in the transition from the failed global drug-prohibition regime of the 20th century to a new 21st century global drug-control regime that minimizes the extraordinary costs and failures of the old approach," Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the New York-based Drug Policy Alliance says.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos also pleaded with U.N. leaders last week to reconsider the strictly prohibitionist approach to fighting drug trafficking and consumption.

"Right here, in this same headquarters 52 years ago, the convention that gave birth to the war on drugs was approved," Santos said. "Today we must acknowledge that war has not been won."

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