The President of Guatemala, Otto Pérez Molina, described as "premature" the position of United States in rejection of his initiative to start the discussion on the decriminalization of the traffic, trade and consumption of drugs in the region.
With this position, "seem that United States wants to slash the debate", said Perez Molina during a press conference offered along with the President of El Salvador, Mauricio Funes, who said today a working meeting in the Guatemalan capital to discuss regional security issues.
The Government of the United States.UU. "it must be open to the topic", so "We hope to have opening" and participate in a panel discussion which should analyse its proposal, said Perez Molina.
The Embassy of United States in Guatemala, by means of a press release issued on Sunday, noted that his Government "continues oppose such measures because the evidence shows that our shared problem of drugs is a major threat to public health and safety".
Decriminalize traffic and marketing of drugs, added the American legation, would be "a major threat to public health and safety".
The Guatemalan representative announced Saturday his decision to propose to the Governments of Central America, United States, Mexico and Colombia discussion of the decriminalization of the trafficking and trade in drugs as a regional strategy to combat drug trafficking and to stop the hundreds of deaths caused by this illegal activity.
Pérez Molina, who today explained the details of its initiative to Funes, said his goal is to "put on the table" discussion of this topic, whose resolution could take "months or even years", and said that Guatemala will not assume a unilateral position thereon.
"There will not be a unilateral decision" on the part of Guatemala, because this topic not interested exclusively in their country or Central America, but is "something that has to do with the region".
A growing number of former Latin American leaders have come out in favor of legalization, saying the U.S. efforts to fight drug trafficking in Latin America have only caused more violence and sucked up resources.
Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos has said he would be open to legalization if the entire world agreed.
"It's a theme that must be addressed," Colombia's Foreign Minister Maria Holguin told reporters in Cartegena Monday. "The war on drugs definitely hasn't been the success it should be and it's something the countries should discuss."
Honduras, another major transit country, has never formally considered legalization.
Mexico President Felipe Calderon has said it wouldn't make sense to legalize drugs in the region as long as they remain illegal in the U.S.
Perez, 61, was elected in November and took office last month on a platform of cracking down on the country's rampant crime, a product of gang and cartel violence, along with the legacy of a bloody 1960-1996 civil war.
Army, police and paramilitary are blamed for killing the vast majority of 200,000 victims, most of whom were Mayan.
More than half of Guatemalans live in poverty in a nation of 14 million overrun by organized crime and Mexican drug cartels. Perez's predecessor, former President Alvaro Colom, sent troops to retake some provinces from the Zetas drug gang. READ FULL STORY