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UN warns on drug violence
3/5/2012
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Central American governments to debate legalizing drugs.

A United Nations agency warned in late February about alarming levels of violence in Central America tied to drug-trafficking.

The region has been increasingly used as a transit hub for cocaine and other drugs moving from South America to the United States and Europe, the biggest markets for the substances.

“The escalating drug-related violence involving drug trafficking organizations, transnational and local gangs and other criminal groups in Central America has reached alarming and unprecedented levels, significantly worsening the subregion’s security and making it one of the most violent areas in the world,” said the International Narcotics Control Board in its annual report, published Feb. 28. “Drug trafficking, youth-related violence and street gangs, along with the widespread availability of firearms, have contributed to increasingly high crime rates in the subregion.”

In an effort to stem the violence, some Central American leaders are considering decriminalizing drugs. Guatemalan President Otto Pérez Molina and Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla have called for a debate on the issue as a possible solution to control drug demand and stamp out violence.

But the call, ahead of the Summit of the Americas, scheduled to be held in Cartagena April 14-15, drew criticism from US officials.

Speaking in Mexico, US Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano brushed off the plan and criticism that the US-led and largely funded drug war has failed.

“I would not agree with the premise that the drug war is a failure,” Napolitano said. “It is a continuing effort to keep our peoples from becoming addicted to dangerous drugs.”
—Latinamerica Press.


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