Washington’s hard-lined anti-legalization position is unlikely to waiver regardless of who wins the upcoming U.S. presidential election. A more important question lies in Washington’s loss of influence within the region over the last ten years. As a result, the potential for legalization makes the overall political ramifications unpredictable for the region. This is especially true when it comes to Uruguay, a country that will soon be voting on the world’s first legalization legislation.
While Latin America insists that policy change must be the focus of a coordinated global effort, the region seems bent on advancing reform, with or without international support. “We have systematically called for ample discussion on these matters on the international stage, but we have only found obstacles. Ultimately, Latin America has the autonomy to advance measures that we feel are most pertinent for our citizens,” says Julio Calzada, secretary general of Uruguay’s National Committee on Drugs.
Colombia, Guatemala, and Mexico – hardly liberal bastions – have taken the matter a step further. The Latin American countries, each threatened by drug violence, sent a clearly worded declaration to the United Nations, inviting member states to undertake a consultation process to come up with more effective drug policy strategies. They urged the UN to “exercise its leadership…. to conduct deep reflection to analyze all available options, including regulatory or market measures, in order to establish a new paradigm,” the declaration states, translated into English by the Guatemala Times.