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Jun 7, 2013

O.A.S. roadmap to renewal of regional drug policy

This week, a News Five team has been covering the forty-third General Assembly of the Organization of American States that was held in Antigua, Guatemala. The annual event concluded with a press conference just before midnight on Thursday.  There was heavy security throughout the proceedings and the media pool from the hemisphere covering the event was also impressive. The meeting of thirty-four countries, including the United States and Canada, decided on the way forward to tackle the crippling drug problem in the region.  Marleni Cuellar and Rick Romero were in Guatemala for the event.

 

Jose Sanchez, Reporting

The forty-third General Assembly of the Organization of American States (O.A.S.) ended with foreign ministers’ creating a roadmap they hope leads to long-term renewal of their regional drug policy in 2016.

 

Jose Miguel Insulza

Jose Miguel Insulza, Secretary General, O.A.S.

“And I would like to say that with regards to the topic of the assembly, we have even more agreement than we had hoped for. The declaration is quite specific with regards to the issues that it covers. It covers the great issue that you told us to please look into. It also includes a series of steps to be followed that will continue to keep us working for the next months and perhaps over the course of the next year so that in the course of the next year, we can hold a new general assembly in which we can carry out strategic decision making and also prepare ourselves for the decisions that will be made at the U.N. because it is established that this country can contribute quite a bit to them in terms of the issue of drugs. I believe that therefore we have been quite successful. We have much more consensus than we had hoped for and I believe that the other issues were also resolved adequately. I believe that everybody is leaving quite satisfied. We are thankful to Guatemala, we are thankful to its president, to its foreign minister, to its government, to its people and we hope to come back. Perhaps next year we can have another general assembly right here. That’s the idea. Thank you so much.”

 

Host country president, Otto Perez Molina, spoke of the success of the assembly.

 

Otto Perez Molina

Otto Perez Molina, President of Guatemala

“There is a summary of other mechanisms through which there will be follow up to what has been agreed and to what has been talked about to drugs in the Americas. There is also a disposition to follow up various mechanisms such as the health through OPS; the other one is through SICA and of course through the security ministers who will be gathering in November of this year. And also, there is a request to the permanent council to convert to an extraordinary period of the general assembly which will occur at the very latest in 2014. This allows for mechanisms that will provide follow up to this topic. All of this of course was based on the study presented by Mr. Secretary General of the O.A.S., Mister Insulza. There can also be a search for a new alternative to fight against drugs and combat drugs and we believe that this is a step forward and a very important step that is being taken by the member states of the Organization of American States. So with that, I would like to thank everyone who participated in this assembly and all of the countries that were represented, the observer countries, the international countries. I believe that this is, as I said in the inaugural speech, this is truly a historic moment in which all countries are willing to continue dialogue with great openness and the focus that the policy…that there is an openness not just for dialogue, not just for discussion; but also a clear openness to find new alternatives that will allow us to be more efficient in reduction in concession traffic in production of drugs.”

 

Officials at the General Assembly, which was held in the Guatemalan city of Antigua, said they will convene a special meeting during the first half of 2014 to outline the counter-narcotics strategy that will be discussed when the O.A.S. holds its forty-fourth General Assembly in June 2014 in Paraguay.  Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.

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