Prostitutes and secret service and Latin America, oh my. This year’s Summit of the Americas was reduced to a scandal about secret service agents too dumb or too cheap to pay the money they owed the sex workers they solicited in Cartagena.
But the real story is that Latin American leaders are coming out of the woodwork and stating that the war on drugs is not working. These leaders are calling for reforms ranging from legalization, to decriminalization, to focusing of treatment instead of incarceration. And what’s shocking is that they are not just the lefty leaders who have come to power on Latin America’s so-called Pink Tide.
In addition to the left wing presidents in Bolivia, Argentina, and Brazil, to name a few, some of the strongest calls for reform are coming from the right: Colombian president and former defense minister Juan Manuel Santos is wants to debate alternatives to the drug war; Mexico’s Felipe Calderon, who has launched a controversial drug war which has left nearly 50,000 dead wants the United States to consider replacing it’s draconian approach with “market alternatives.” And Guatemalan right wing former military man President Otto Perez wants to decriminalize drugs.
For his part, Obama announced that while legalizing drugs was off the table, In the plan off the table, he acknowledged that “mass incarceration” of nonviolent drug users is an “outdated” policy and said he will focus resources on prevention and recovery, admitting that “drug addiction is a disease.”