Otto Perez Molina, of Guatemala, along with Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia, and Philipe Calderon of Mexico yesterday spoke at the U.N. and urged serious discussion of drug policy. This was not based on libertarian pleas for freedom, but more a realistic, depressing realization, particularly on the part of the departing President Calderon, that unless people stop having a taste for drugs, something else has to happen. The new-to-office Molina also is preparing to go hard against the cartels who have moved from Mexico into his backyard, even as he plead to the General Assembly that it's time to seriously change the drug war's tactics.
Calderón's speech characterized organized crime as a principal cause of death and "one of the greatest threats to democracy in the 21st century."
He urged drug-consuming nations to "evaluate with all sincerity, and honesty, if they have the will to reduce the consumption of drugs in a substantive manner."
"If this consumption cannot be reduced, it is urgent that decisive actions be taken," Calderón said.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos also called for a debate looking at alternatives to the traditional "war on drugs," saying the discussion "must be frank, and without a doubt, global."
"It is our duty to determine — on objective scientific bases — if we are doing the best we can or if there are better options to combat the scourge," Santos said.
Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina in the past has called for legalization of drugs as one possible alternative, but did not go that far in his U.N. address.
Instead, Pérez Molina said his government "would like to establish an international group of countries that are well disposed to reforming global policies on drugs" and would consider "new creative and innovative alternatives."
On the other hand, Perez Molina told the AP on Tuesday, with no dancing around the issue, that he was in favor of legalization, even of cocaine and heroin (regulated, of course).
Of course, back in April, during the Summit of the Americans, when several of these same leaders pushed at Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to seriously discus ending the war on drugs, the result was less than progressive The only sign that came from non-Latin American leaders was the extremely grudging admittance from Obama that this issue "worth discussing." But the answer was, of course, still no.
The Organization of American States is preparing a report on drug legalization, but it's for next year. On the off-chance that things move in the right direction on drug legalization, we can always depend on things to move at the excruciating pace of bureaucracies who have no sense of how bad the drug war is for people caught in its middle.