Guatemala's President Campaigns to Legalize Drugs
Desperate to alleviate violence in the region, Perez Molina proposes legalizing drugs at a conference of Central American leaders.
Guatemalan president Otto Perez Molina was the most outspoken at a weekend meeting among Central American leaders on ending the drug violence in the region, proposing several ideas that included legalizing drugs. In addition to decriminalizing the transport and consumption of drugs, Perez Molina also suggested creating a regional court to try drug trafficking cases and having the US provide economic compensation for seized drugs. Although the leaders did not come to an agreement, the meeting was still a success in the eyes of Perez Molina. "It was as successful as we were hoping, successful in that we got rid of these taboos and myths that before kept the leaders of the region from talking or debating ideas, ideas that for a long time could not be talked about openly," he says. The 61-year-old surprised many with how quickly he wavered from his election season promises of cracking down on cartels "with an iron fist"—just after his first month in office he began advocating for the legalization of drugs. Perez Molina isn't the first Central American leader to support legalizing drugs. A 2009 report showed that three former Latin American presidents—Brazil's Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Colombia's Cesar Gaviria, and Mexico's Ernesto Zedillo—called for decriminalizing marijuana for personal use, former Mexican President Vicente Fox has also echoed advocacy for cannabis legalization.