Facing Influx of Cartels, New Guatemalan President Dumps His 'Iron Fist' Drug Strategy Position to Advocate for Reform Instead
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Newly installed Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina has called for talks about a regional drug strategy, including drug decriminalization. Perez Molina made the remarks in an interview with the Mexican TV network Televisa, Miami's El Nuevo Herald reported.
While praising Mexican President Felipe Calderon for making "a very great effort" in his fight against drug traffickers, Perez Molina complained that that effort "has not been matched by the United States, which is its neighbor and largest [drug] market."
Perez Molina's remarks on decriminalization come as something of a surprise. He said nothing like that during his election campaign, in which he vowed to use "an iron fist" against encroaching Mexican cartels. In one of his first acts in office, he emulated Calderon by calling out the armed forces to fight the cartels.
Both the Zetas and the Sinaloa cartel are reported to be operating in Guatemala, which borders Mexico to the north. The drug gangs are blamed for an increasing number of killings in the Central American country, the bloodiest being the May 2011 massacre of 27 farm workers whose boss had been targeted by the Zetas.