In an interview with CNN en Español, the president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, said the following:
I recognize the courageous position of Otto Perez Molina because this is one of the taboo topics in our America. But it is similar to the US during the 20s. The only amendment of the US constitution that has been repealed is prohibition of alcohol, why? Because what they achieved – and alcohol is a drug, by the way, and it also produces many accidents, addiction, crime, etc. – because the only thing they achieved is the generation of mafias that manage large quantities of money, they could not protect the consumer of alcohol – which is a health problem, like the consumption of drugs – and they did not pay taxes, violence, etc. What is the only difference with the current problem of drugs? That the producers there where North Americans and now they are Latin Americans so they have to bombard them.
Of course we have to search for a new strategy. The failure of the current strategy is resounding; we have to search for a new strategy to fight against what we all want to fight against: this pandemic, this harm of the drug situation and its global expansion. But it is clear that the strategy that we have used of repression, especially of production – not of consumption – has failed.
Interviewer asks Correa if, when he is talking about drugs, he remembers what happened with his father.
For this reason I do not like talking about this issue because that painful episode of my youth will always arise. My father was a prisoner for three years in the United States for having transported – he was a ‘mule’, which is what they call it now – he was not a criminal, he was unemployed and in his desperation, he accepted, and he committed an error and paid for his mistake. And in prison he stopped smoking, learned English; he was a person who is a great example of overcoming. For this reason, I have been very prudent in this field because this episode will always arise.
I do not have any problem taking stronger measures against the big drug trafficker. But against the poor unemployed who, out of desperation, wants to carry half a kilo of drugs to the United States, to put them in jail? For the love of God, these are not criminals; these people have the face of poverty; they are single mothers, abandoned youth. They need different treatment. Against big traffickers – these are people that rob our youth – impose the most strong measures possible.
For this reason I have not talked much about this issue because they will always raise this episode from my youth and of my family. But now that the issue has been presented – with such courage by President Otto Perez of Guatemala – then yes, I will say it frankly: we have to search for other strategies in the fight against drugs.