By Phillip Smith
Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina said Wednesday his country could present a plan before year’s end to legalize the production of marijuana and opium poppies. His comments came in an interview with Reuters.
Perez, a conservative and former general, has been a harsh critic of the US-led war on drugs in Latin America, repeatedly denouncing such policies at international forums. He has alsopreviously mentioned the possibility of moving to legalize marijuana and opium production, but has yet to put forward a concrete plan to do so.
But a presidential commission has been studying the issue of reforms in the country’s drug laws, and Perez told Reuters he expected the commission to make its recommendations by October and that the measures could be presented by year’s end. That could include a bill to legalize drugs, particularly marijuana, Perez said.
“The other thing we’re exploring… is the legalization of the poppy plantations on the border with Mexico, so they’re controlled and sold for medicinal ends,” Perez said. “These two things could be steps taken on a legal basis.”
While Afghanistan is by far the world’s largest opium producer, accounting for nearly 90% of global production, poppies are also grown in the Western hemisphere — in Mexico and Colombia, as well as Guatemala. Western hemisphere opium accounts for most of the heroin consumed in the United States.
Perez is keeping a careful eye on his northern neighbor, too. Mexico decriminalized drug possession in 2009, but has been loath to take further steps to end the drug war there, although there are now proposals afoot to legalize marijuana. Meanwhile, Mexican drug trafficking organizations, under pressure in their home country, have expanded their operations in Guatemala and other Central American nations.
December 21, 2012
Guatemala on 21 December 2012 marked the end of a major cycle in the 5,125-year Mayan Long Count calendar with a colourful, elaborate celebration filled with dance, Mayan music and gravity-defying headdresses. The ceremony at the Tikal archaeological site started just after 03:00 GMT with man dressed like a Mayan priest blowing a horn in the Temple of Giant Jaguar, the most famous of all Tikal’s temples.
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November 7, 2012
At least 39 people have been killed and hundreds remain missing after a powerful earthquake struck off the Pacific coast of Guatemala, where a tsunami warning has now been issued.
The 7.4-magnitude earthquake centered about 160km southwest of Guatemala City. It is the strongest to hit the country since a deadly 1976 quake that killed 23,000.
The death toll is feared to rise as survivors report widespread landslides and people trapped under the rubble.
The quake was so powerful that it made crossways from Guatemala City to neighboring Mexico City. The US Pacific Tsunami Warning Center said there was a possibility of a local tsunami, within 320km of the epicenter.
Local radio reports widespread power outages and cuts in telephone service.
The mountain village of San Marcos, 130km from the epicenter, has suffered extensive damage with some 30 homes destroyed. More than 2,000 soldiers have been sent to help with the relief effort.
Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina has asked people not to travel on motorways, as several highways in the west of the country have been cut off by landslides.
Locals stare at damages in a house in San Marcos, 240 km of Guatemala City, after the city was hit by an earthquake.(AFP Photo / STR)
AFP Photo / Bomberos DE Guatemala
August 27, 2012
Best view of damage @03:44 A mini tornado tears through the Municipal Cemetery in Guatemala City, with strong winds lifting roofs and pulling trees. No major injuries or deaths were reported.
Sources: 3 videos from various youtubers