Summit of the Americas mum on drug policy

Drug policy isn't on the agenda for this weekends Summit of the Americas in Colombia, but it's a topic on everyone's mind, writes guest blogger Steven Dudley.

Jose Miguel Gomez/Reuters
Flags of the countries of the Americas are seen at the entrance of the Centro de Convenciones in Cartagena on April 10. The Caribbean port city will host the VI Summit of the Americas from April 14 to 15.

• A version of this post ran on the author's site, The views expressed are the author's own.

In an April 7 editorial, Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina said he was for moving beyond the rhetoric around drug prohibition and legalization.

"Our proposal, as the Guatemalan government, is to abandon any ideological position (whether prohibition or liberalization) and to foster a global intergovernmental dialogue based on a realistic approach -- drug regulation," the former army general wrote in the Guardian newspaper's weekend edition, the Observer.

"Drug consumption, production and trafficking should be subject to global regulations, which means that consumption and production should be legalized but within certain limits and conditions," he added. "And legalization therefore does not mean liberalization without controls."

Perez hopes that dialogue about this issue will begin at the Sixth Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, April 14 - 15, where 34 heads of state, including US President Barack Obama, are scheduled to meet to discuss everything but drug policy.

Drug policy will, then, be the "gorilla in the room" during the summit, as the topic is on everyone's minds but not officially on the agenda. As such, this week InSight Crime brings you "The Gorilla in the Room," a series of articles and graphics on drug policy questions in the lead up to the summit.

To start, we give you an interactive graphic (below and here) prepared by InSight Crime reporter Edward Fox that maps every country's publicly stated position on legalization and decriminalization with background information and links. It is also downloadable here (pdf) as a chart.

Later articles will include an in-depth analysis on Guatemala's position, recommendations for summit participants to move the debate forward and an assessment of academia's positions on the issue.

The red countries in the map represent those who have publicly stated they are against both legalization and decriminalization of narcotics.

The yellow countries are those which either have partial decriminalization laws or have argued in favor of this, but have said they are against legalization.

The green countries are those who are open to debate on drug decriminalization and legalization.

– Steven Dudley is a director at Insight – Organized Crime in the Americas, which provides research, analysis, and investigation of the criminal world throughout the region. Find all of his research here. Additional reporting provided by Andres Ortiz Sedano.

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.