Peru Reiterates Position On Drug Legalization At Regional Summit

Foreign Relations Minister Rafael Roncagliolo has reiterated Peru’s position against legalizing drugs, state news agency Andina reported.

Roncagliolo made the comments at the Sixth Summit of the Americas, held during this past weekend in the Colombian coastal city of Cartagena. The issue of drug legalization was being touted as one of the big issues at the summit, as a number of Latin American leaders have hinted recently that this may be necessary in order to combat violent drug cartels and the increasing violence in drug-related crimes.

“On the issue of drugs, as President Ollanta Humala has said, Peru is not in favor of de-criminilazing drugs, considering our situation as a producer country and the importance that we give to the fight against drug trafficking and organized crime,” Roncagliolo said.

Along with Colombia, Peru is the world’s biggest producer of cocaine.

The search for alternative methods of curbing the production and use of illegal drugs has increased as decades of anti-drug policies based on police and military actions have required billions of dollars in investment and have not produced the desired results. Additionally, violent and organized crime are more widespread than ever.

In Peru, policies over the past 30 years of forced eradication of coca crops, alternative crop programs, destruction of coca paste sites, and intercepting traffickers have managed to contain drug production to a certain degree but have not reduced the production as new areas open up to replace areas now growing alternative crops.

Initial steps proposed last year by Ricardo Soberon, briefly head of the Devida drug eradication agency, to change the government’s strategies and policies on coca eradication and crop substitution were scotched when Soberon was replaced by Carmen Masias, who is strongly opposed to de-criminalization.

At the time Soberon was fired during a major cabient shift to change several government policies on different issues, Premier Oscar Valdes said Peru was in “no position for experiments or trial balloons.”

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