A thinly-veiled call for drug policy reform at the XIII Tuxtla System for Dialogue

Last December 6th, 2011, the countries  from the Tuxtla System for Dialogue met in Merida, Mexico, to discuss, among others, the security situation in the region, focusing on organized crime and narco-trafficking.

The Summit was attended by the presidents of Guatemala, Álvaro Colom; Honduras, Porfirio Lobo; Mexico, Felipe Calderón; Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega; Panama, Ricardo Martinelli; Dominican Republic, Leonel Fernández; and First Vice-President of Costa Rica, Alfio Piva and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Belize, Wilfred Elrington; Colombia, María Ángela Holguín; and El Salvador, Hugo Martínez. On this occasion, President of Chile Sebastián Piñera also attended in his capacity as Special Guest.

They published a one-page joint declaration  that expresses the growing frustration with the global war on drugs within the Central American region, and his the clearest regional call for  drug policy reform to date. (Declaracion conjunta sobre crimen-organizado y narcotrafico) – http://www.presidencia.gob.mx/2011/12/declaracion-conjunta-sobre-crimen-organizado-y-narcotrafico/ 

Here, is the key paragraph of the declaration:

“Senalaron que Lo deseable sería una sensible reducción de la demanda de drogas ilegales. Sin embargo, si ello no es posible, como lo demuestra la experiencia reciente, las autoridades de los países consumidores deben entonces explorar todas las alternativas posibles para eliminar las ganancias exorbitantes de los criminales incluyendo opciones regulatorias o de mercado orientadas a ese propósito. Así se evitaría que el trasiego de sustancias siga provocando altos niveles de crimen y violencia en naciones latinoamericanas y caribeñas”.

or in plain English:

“They indicated that What would be desirable, would be a significant reduction in the demand for illegal drugs. Nevertheless, if that is not possible, as recent experience demonstrates, the authorities of the consuming countries ought then to explore the possible alternatives to eliminate the exorbitant profits of the criminals, including regulatory or market oriented options to this end. Thus, the transit of substances that continue provoking high levels of crime and violence in Latin American and Caribbean nations will be avoided.”

The declaration uses almost verbatim previous declarations made by President Calderon and clearly bear his mark. It was largely ignored by the US medias, even though it represents a dramatic shift in attitude within the Central American and Caribbean region. Let’s hope that this new attitude will translate into a deliberate shift toward drug policy reform!