Pubdate: Thu, 16 Feb 2012
Source: Miami Herald (FL)
Copyright: 2012 Associated Press
Author: Romina Ruiz-Goiriena


GUATEMALA CITY (AP) -- Guatemala's first president with a military 
background in 25 years said Tuesday the drug war can't be won with 
arms alone, and pledged that his administration will focus on 
fighting hunger, which he called a security problem.

In an interview with The Associated Press one day after he promised 
to propose legalizing drugs in Guatemala, President Otto Perez Molina 
said the Central American country isn't following U.S. orders, 
despite American opposition to legalization.

"We are not doing what the United States says, we are doing what we 
have to do," said Perez, who was elected on promises of an 
"iron-fist" approach to rampant crime and surprised observers by 
proposing drug legalization.

Perez, a retired army general who took office one month ago, said his 
proposal to legalize drugs does not represent an about face from his 
campaign, in which he promised to get touch on crime.

He said he has always focused on a more comprehensive approach for 
addressing one of the highest murder rates in the world.

"Hunger is also violence, and is also a security problem," he said.

The outside world "has only focused on the fact that I am a retired 
general and participated in the domestic armed conflict," he said, 
referring to Guatemala's 1960-1996 civil war, in which an estimated 
200,000 people were killed.

Guatemala needs "to find alternate ways of fighting drug trafficking. 
In the last 30 years with a traditional combat with arms and deaths, 
it can't be done, and we have to be open to viable alternatives."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom