Sunday, April 15, 2012

Americas Summit Consensus Reached on Drugs, Organized Crime

The sixth edition of the Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia ended on Sunday with the absence of a final declaration. Despite the disagreement among countries over issues like Cuba, the Falklands and drug legalization, consensus was reached in other areas.

Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos announced that countries at the summit agreed to give the Organization of American States (OAS) a mandate to examine illegal drug policies.

“Many assumptions are made over how to carry out the fight against drugs. Nobody knows exactly how to do it and this must be analyzed,” said Santos at the end of the summit.

He also emphasized that the discussion over narcotics should not be focused on legalization but instead on “exploring new approaches that strengthen (antidrug policies) and make them more effective”.

Santos also revealed that summit participants agreed on Mexico’s idea of creating an “inter-American system” to combat organized crime. Mexican president Felipe Calderón later clarified that the regional body would be created this year and under the auspices of the OAS.

Calderón highlighted that this new body does not mean that current counternarcotics policies through the region are unsuccessful. In a press conference after the summit he noted that the new agency “provides a chance to strengthen (policies against drugs) and broader participation by other countries.”

The other suggestion that obtained consensus was a joint idea from Brazil and Argentina to support the Rio +20 sustainable development conference this June.

The lack of total agreement by summit participants did not faze Santos according to BBC News:
"Who thought that an agreement would be reached here about the Falklands and Cuba?" he asked, referring to the two subjects which had most divided opinion.

"We all knew there would be no agreements here, we knew it from before, so there are no negative surprises here," he told reporters at a news conference after the summit had ended.
Video Source – YouTube via gobiernofederal (In this video via the Mexican government, President Felipe Calderón reflects on the events of the sixth edition of the Summit of the Americas).

Online Sources – The Latin Americanist, BBC News, La Nacion,, El Universal, El Espectador, El Tiempo

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