Guatemalan president says drug war has failed

Otto Perez Molina calls for research and dialogue, telling Al Jazeera strategy against trafficking needs to change.

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    Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina has told Al Jazeera that the regional war against drug trafficking is being lost and requires new research, dialogue and a change in strategy.

    "I find that crime, corruption and violence have grown in my country, while the cartels have spilled over from Mexico to Guatemala," he told Al Jazeera in an interview on the sidelines of the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, on Friday.

    Given his experience in combating drugs as Guatemala's intelligence chief 18 years ago, Perez offered a candid view when he stated that the so-called war on drugs was lost and called for a debate to discuss alternatives.

    "Our institutions have been weakened. And this is happening elsewhere. So now I'm asking myself, are we doing things right? Do we have the right strategy? Or do we have to reflect and sit down to find new alternatives to fight drug trafficking?" he said.

    Perez added: "What I am putting on the table here today at the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena is a call for a debate, a dialogue, where we have statistics, studies, serious analysis of the subject.

    "Based on the results, we must find new alternatives, not more of the same things that we have done for 40 years with results that clearly show us that we are not winning the war against drugs."

    Perez is due to meet Central American counterparts on Saturday on the sidelines of the summit.

    Regional debate

    In March, at the instigation of Washington according to some reports, the presidents of El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras boycotted a summit called by Perez in the Guatemalan city of Antigua to discuss his proposal.

    Perez said then that any new strategy to combat rampant crime from drug trafficking must end the "taboo" against decriminalisation.

    "We must end the myths, the taboos, and tell people you have to discuss it, discuss it, debate it," Perez said as he hosted the leaders of Costa Rica and Panama, and delegates from El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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