Feb 15, 2012

Drug Policy Debate: Why Guatemala’s Pérez Molina Is Considering Legalizing Drugs

Latin America's Moment: "(Guatemala President) Pérez Molina’s most recent about face has drawn annoyance and even anger from the United States. Last Saturday he raised the possibility of legalizing drugs in Central America, saying he’d put the debate on the table in future meetings with regional leaders.

...So what is Pérez Molina’s endgame? A popular theory is that he’s trying to pressure the United States into lifting its ban on weapons sales to Guatemala, instituted in 1978 due to the military’s role in human rights abuses during the civil conflict. This makes sense. The president has spoken openly and frequently about his desire to buy U.S. arms, ... Threatening to decriminalize drugs as a last resort solution the problem of organized crime could pressure the United States to offer an alternative: renewed military aid.

... But Pérez Molina may also be making a more ambitious attempt to alter the long-standing foundations of U.S. relations with Guatemala and Central America more broadly. ... The legalization debate is a way of putting Central America – and Guatemala in particular – on the United States’ radar screen. It is also a way of asserting the country’s autonomy from Washington." read more

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