Peru’s President Says ‘Tough Laws’ Alone Can’t Beat Drug Trade

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At an international meeting on drug policy, hosted in Peru, President Ollanta Humala spoke of the need for broader strategies to combat the drug trade, saying that “tough laws” alone weren’t enough.

On Monday, the first of a two-day meeting with representatives of some 60 countries, Humala urged governments to join forces and share information on successful anti-drug policies, reported La Republica.

“We need to design policies with a multi-sector vision,” said Humala. “We shouldn’t think that only with tough laws [the drug trade] is going to disappear.”

The president added that governments should work towards approaches such as rehabilitation for drug users, and increasing the number of alternative crop programs that encourage coca producers to grow legal products like coffee and cacao. Humala said that Peru is currently spending $250 million a year on its anti-drug policies and seeing very little success. Peru is now thought to be the world’s bigger producer of cocaine, having overtaken Colombia last year.

It is unclear whether the issue of legalization will be discussed on the concluding day of the conference, as it is not on the meeting’s official agenda, according to the Associated Press.

InSight Crime Analysis

In March, Peru unveiled a new anti-narcotics strategy that is set to run until 2016 and aims to cut coca crops by 30 percent by then. This followed the removal of the progressive Ricardo Soberon as head of anti-drug agency Devida in January and the appointment of the more US-friendly Carmen Masias, a move many saw as a sign of Peru’s wish to appease the United States.

Humala’s criticism of relying on “tough laws” alone to tackle the drug trade could be viewed as part of a regional trend of discussing alternative drug policies. Some governments, like that of Guatemala, have highlighted the need to explore legalization and branded the US-led war on drugs a failure.

Despite having decriminalized possession of small quantities of drugs since 2003, Peru has not joined calls for legalization, with Masias stating earlier this year that such a move would be “madness.”

See InSight Crime’s map of regional positions on drug policy
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