Apr 9, 2012

US not afraid to debate drugs at Summit of the Americas

Notimex: (Americas Program original translation) The United States ambassador in Colombia, Michael McKinley, denied that his country feared a debate on drugs at the Sixth Summit of the Americas next weekend in Cartagena.

In an interview published in the Colombian newspaper El Tiempo on Monday, the diplomat said that Washington is open to debate in the forum that will be opened by more than ten countries in the region.

“We are not afraid to debate policy and strategies related to the fight against drug trafficking. Rather, we hope that in Cartagena there will be an opportunity to speak openly about strategies,” he said.

McKinley reiterated the US opposition to the proposal put forth by some Central American countries which would legalize drugs, arguing that “it’s not the way to solve the problems facing the region.”

He said that although the region supports the debate, each country’s positions are different, as in Central America, where “for example, two weeks ago, three governments declared they were opposed to legalization.”

“The important thing is to have a serious and objective debate. Our position is and will continue to be opposition to legalization. And we also believe that there has been major achievments and advancements in the last 10 or 15 years,” he added.

In his opinion, any policy to combat drug trafficking begins with international cooperation, thus insisting that “this is not an issue that the US can unilaterally define.”

McKinley made it clear that Washington has tried in recent years to “‘denarcotize’ its relationship with Latin America and the Caribbean,” because, in his opinion, “we must focus on other issues that impact the region.”

According to the ambassador, alongside the debate surrounding public safety, including drug trafficking, crime, and human trafficking, should be policies for economic development, social inclusion, and combating inequality. See Spanish original 

Translation by Michael Kane, Americas Program

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