Following a meeting with Mexican President Felipe Calderon, US Vice President Joseph Biden told press that while the US welcomes a debate on drug legalization, there was no chance of his administration altering its position against such a move.
Biden said that while he sympathized with the frustrations of Latin American governments who were fighting the drug trade, legalization would only cause more problems, such as increased addiction rates.
According to the New York Times, Biden said he did not discuss the subject during Monday’s meeting with President Calderon. Calderon has in the past hinted that he would be open to debate on drug legalization, although he has not spoken out to support neighbor Otto Perez, Guatemala’s new president, who breathed new life into the issue with his recent outspoken calls for discussion. Since he left office, Calderon’s predecessor Vicente Fox has openly said that he supports the idea of legalization. Current presidents that have agreed there should be dialogue on the issue include Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.
Undeterred by Biden’s assertion, Perez said that he would state his case before the vice president at a meeting of Central American leaders Wednesday in Honduras.
The Guatemalan leader said he hoped the prime minister of Belize and the president of the Dominican Republic would be present, so that he could explain his position to them. El Salvador’s leader Mauricio Funes, however, told reporters that the issue of Perez’s proposal was not on the agenda.
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Perez has also said he plans to raise the subject at the summit of Central American leaders in March. Many analysts have said that his stance could be an effort to encourage the US to give more military aid to combat drug gangs in the Central American country.
Nicaragua Dispatch brings another perspective to the issue by quoting the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, who compares Perez’s campaign to bring the drug legalization issue to the table with Costa Rican President Oscar Arias’ work on the Central American peace plan 25 years ago. The plan was signed in 1987 despite opposition “from the United States, Cuba and the Soviet Union, all of which were convinced that the only solution to Central America’s problems was a military one,” according to Arias.
A version of this article appeared on the Pan-American Post.