Guatemala leader asks US to pay for drug seizures

AP News
Posted: Mar 24, 2012 9:28 PM
Guatemala leader asks US to pay for drug seizures

Guatemala's president proposed Saturday that the United States and other "consumer" countries pick up the tab for the cost of drug seizures.

Otto Perez Molina made the comment during a Central America meeting that he called to discuss his earlier proposal to legalize drugs, a meeting that drew only two of his counterparts from the region.

"For every kilo of cocaine that is seized, we want to be compensated 50 percent by the consumer countries," he said.

The Guatemalan leader said the United States has a "responsibility" because it has one of the highest rates of drug use.

Drug cartel activity has been increasing in Central America, both as a smuggling route and a base for operations.

Perez Molina said the fight against drug trafficking has failed and governments need to look for alternatives.

The presidents of Panama and Costa Rica did attend Saturday's meeting in Guatemala, and two of the other four Central American nations sent lesser representatives.

The office of Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes suggested setting a date for another meeting, saying other nations have expressed interest in participating.

Perez Molina first made the drug legalization proposal in February. It has received lukewarm response in the region and opposition from the United States.

He said Saturday that legalization of drug use should be accompanied by a system to regulate the production and consumption of drugs. He also suggested the region decriminalize drug trafficking and instead set up a specific transit corridor with border controls for the registration of drug shipments.