Guatemala Prez To Propose Legalizing Drugs

Published February 11, 2012 9:18PM (EST)

GUATEMALA CITY (AP) — Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina said Saturday he will propose legalizing drugs in Central America in an upcoming meeting with the region's leaders.

Perez Molina said in a radio interview that his proposal would include decriminalizing the transportation of drugs through the area.

"I want to bring this discussion to the table," he said. "It wouldn't be a crime to transport, to move drugs. It would all have to be regulated."

Perez Molina, a former army general who took office last month, didn't give any other details about his proposal, mention specific drugs or say when the next meeting with Central American leaders will be.

He said he will bring the subject up with Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes when Funes visits Monday.

The Guatemalan president said the war on drugs and all the money and technology received from the U.S. has not diminished drug trafficking in the area.

"There was talk of the success of Plan Colombia but all it did was neutralize big cartels," Perez Molina said of a U.S. initiative supporting Colombia's fight against leftist rebels and far-right militias involved in the drug trade.

Perez Molina also blamed drug cartels for rampant violence in Guatemala, which has a homicide rate of 41 murders per 100,000 people.

The president took office pledging to wield an "iron fist" against crime.

Authorities say both the Zetas and the Sinaloa drug cartels are running and processing drugs in Guatemala and may be competing for territory, especially in the province of Peten near the border with Mexico.

By Salon Staff

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