The Summit of the Americas is more often a photo opportunity than a forum for bold policy initiatives. When issues of substance are discussed, the meeting of the hemisphere's 34 leaders has generally yielded more clashes than regional pacts. But some saw a chance for a little more action this year when leaders from several Latin American countries came to this weekend's summit in the Colombian seaside city of Cartagena complaining of drug war fatigue.
Over the last six months, that weariness has been spreading throughout Latin America. Colombia'sJuan Manuel Santos, Guatemala'sOtto Perez Molina and Mexico'sFelipe Calderon have all suggested that governments need to look at options beyond the military strategies that have left tens of thousands dead in Latin America while failing to curb consumption in the United States, the largest cocaine market in the world.
The three leaders, all close U.S. allies, say it is time to discuss decriminalizing drugs, with Perez writing that global drug policy is grounded in what he calls the false premise that "global drug markets can be eradicated." He says that ending prohibition would remove the obscene profits from the trade and, as a result, reduce the competition and violence that is part of it.