(posted Feb. 14, 9:22 a.m.)- After boldly lending support to Guatemalan President Otto Pérez’s initiative to legalize drugs on Monday afternoon in Guatemala City, Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes quietly flip-flopped on the issue after returning home last night, saying he’s against decriminalization.
Funes joined his Guatemalan counterpart Monday afternoon in criticizing the United States for not doing enough to reduce illegal drug consumption in their own country. Funes said he was not against the idea of debating the merits of legalization at the next Central American presidents’ summit, and said “decriminalization could give a strong financial blow to the organized crime.”
Funes was, however, a bit hesitant in his support for the idea. He warned that it could also stimulate local consumption of drugs among Central American youth.
Funes’ hesitancy apparently bloomed into full-blown doubt by yesterday evening, when he told newswire Acan-EFE, “In particular, I am not in agreement with decriminalization of production, trafficking or consumption of drugs.”
He said he felt the need to clarify his position to “avoid erroneous interpretations.” He said that all he told Guatemalan President Pérez was that he “had the right to propose whatever initiative he wants.”
The United States has come out strongly against Pérez’s initiative to legalize drugs, as it did when a group of ex-Latin American presidents from Brazil, Mexico and Colombia proposed legalization in joint editorial in the Washington Post in 2009.
Central American government officials are scheduled to participate in a high-level drug conference in Washington, D.C. on Thursday.