Guatemala’s New President Suggests Drug Decriminalization

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Guatemala’s new President Otto Perez has called for debate on the decriminalization of drugs, in a surprising move, given the former general’s promises to crack down on traffickers with an “iron fist.”

Speaking to Mexican television, Perez stated that a regional strategy for decriminalization should be debated “as soon as possible” in order to help curb the damaging effects of drug trafficking throughout South and Central America, reported El Nuevo Herald.

Perez Molina emphasized the need for multiple participants in the discussion, and said that the US had dragged its feet in the debate so far.

InSight Crime Analysis

In his campaign for the presidency, Perez made no mention of decriminalizing drugs as a way to combat the high levels of violence in Guatemala. Instead, he promised to take a “mano dura” (iron fist) approach to crime, following through the day after his inauguration with an order for the military to intervene in the drug trade.

Guatemala’s head of state joins Mexican President Felipe Calderon and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, who have both advocated a rethink on global strategy towards drugs. It seems unlikely, however, given the US government’s position against legalization, that their calls will be heeded.

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