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Drug legalization gains support in Central America

• Mike McDonald
 Guatemalan President Otto Perez has invigorated the drug legalization debate in Central America, where leaders are under pressure to contain staggering crime rates and battle violent drug cartels.

In recent comments Perez said he would propose decriminalizing drugs during April’s Summit of the Americas in Colombia as a strategy to combat powerful traffickers that use Central America as a warehouse and transit point for South American cocaine heading to the United States.

New legislation is unlikely anytime soon — and the details, such as which illicit drugs he means, are still unclear — but Perez has caught the region’s attention and has provoked a divisive response from U.S. officials.

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