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Thursday, June 20 2019 @ 11:56 AM UTC

Central American Presidents Boycotted Pérez Molina's Summit On Decriminalization of Drugs

Drug Trafficking
Otto Pérez Molina - President of Guatemala
Otto Pérez Molina - President of Guatemala
The president of Guatemala, Otto Perez Molina, said today the U.S. boycotted the summit of Central American presidents held on Saturday in this country to discuss new ways to fight drug trafficking, including a possible decriminalization. "Yes there were boycotts and it was due to pressure from some U.S. officials," Pérez Molina told reporters, who promotes an open international dialogue on the possible decriminalization as a new drug strategy.

Pérez Molina did not identify the "officials" in Washington who would have intervened, but he said they did so because "there was fear in the U.S. (of) that Central America could unify around the decriminalization of drugs" and take this proposal as a "block" to the Summit of the Americas to be held in April in Colombia.

The meeting took place last Saturday in the Guatemalan city of Antigua, and was only attended by the presidents of Panama, Ricardo Martinelli, and Costa Rica, Laura Chinchilla. At the last minute, the leaders of El Salvador, Mauricio Funes, of Honduras, Porfirio Lobo, and Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, declined to participate in the meeting, called by Molina.

Funes said Wednesday the decision not to attend was agreed by the three leaders after Guatemala changed the agenda of the meeting to supposedly center on the issue of decriminalization. Funes said "we decided not to attend the summit because we were not going to discuss an agenda different from what had been agreed" on 6 March 2012 in Honduras, in a meeting with Central American leaders and U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden. Nor, added the Salvadoran president, "did we want to appear like we were sponsoring an initiative that President (Pérez Molina) has every right to propose (...) but not to impose".

Perez Molina denied Thursday he intended with his meeting in Antigua to "unify Central America around decriminalization," and he argued that his proposal is to open a dialogue on new routes for the efficient fight against drug trafficking. "What I can say is that the boycott was not of the president of El Salvador (...) it was the fear that grew in some U.S. officials and what they did in this case, and it is unfortunate, they used the position of the President of El Salvador to make this boycott," he added.

Perez Molina addressed the issue during a working trip to the eastern Guatemala. The meeting in Antigua concluded Saturday with the agreement of the three leaders present and representatives of the other three Central American countries to "continue the discussion" about new strategies to fight drug trafficking before the holding of the Summit of the Americas in a new meeting with a date to be determined.

El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama have expressed open opposition to decriminalization, as has the United States, though they have been willing to discuss new approaches in combating drug trafficking and the extreme violence generated in Central America. (Critica)

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