On June 25 and 26, Lima welcomed representatives from 59 countries to debate strategies against drug trafficking in a region where the world’s largest cocaine producers are found.
The event in Peru took place as the demand is growing on the part of several Latin American Governments for a comprehensive reform of the anti-drug strategy promoted by the United States for two decades, prioritizing repression.
Peruvian President Ollanta Humala inaugurated the meeting, which was held behind closed doors in Lima and was attended by foreign ministers and delegations from 59 countries from five continents and representatives of ten international organizations.
Peru’s top anti-drug official, Carmen Masías, the head of the Commission for Development and Life without Drugs, said prior to the conference that it would address the topic of reducing illegal drug use and the responsibility to be assigned to producing and consuming countries.
The summit was attended by the secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, who participated during the second day in a consultative meeting with the foreign ministers and heads of anti-drug offices of the hemispheric organization’s member countries.
Washington, D.C., was represented by the top officials responsible for the fight against drugs in that country, State Department anti-drug official William Brownfield and Office of National Drug Control Policy director Gil Kerlikowske.
According to Ricardo Soberón, the top anti-drug official in the first months of Humala’s administration, the panorama “is in major upheaval with countries that want reform; in effect, Mexico, Colombia, and Guatemala are proposing it, Argentina and Uruguay are changing their legislation, Ecuador and Venezuela have completely modified their criminal legislation.”
Peru is going “against the current of the hemispheric trends that are calling for an evaluation of the results of the war on drugs, which has led to many deaths in the region,” he added.
During the summit, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency presented a report that ranked Peru as the largest cocaine producer, in the view of Hugo Cabieses, a former deputy environment minister and an expert on drugs.
Peru tops the list of cocaine producers even according to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, which together with the U.S. State Department estimates its annual cocaine production at around 320 tons.
That calculation is questioned by former drug czar Soberón, according to whom the figure is believed to fluctuate between 150 and 200 tons a year.