Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina has never been soft on crime. The 30-year military veteran rose to power last year on the wings of his law-and-order platform, crystalized in his campaign slogan: “Iron fist, head, and heart.” And he recently approved the creation of two military bases, outfitted with 2,500 soldiers, to guard against the growing presence of drug cartels that have turned Guatemala into a trafficking corridor and fueled some of the world’s highest murder rates.

Since February, though, Perez Molina has coupled his tough talk on crime with calls for a drastic change in crime-fighting tactics centered on the legalization and decriminalization of drugs. Legalization, he insists, should supplement military buildup to stem drug-related violence in Latin America.