President Otto Pérez Molina Launches Beckley Foundation in Guatemala

President of Guatemala: War on Drugs has Failed Pérez launches Beckley Foundation Guatemala and signs Beckley Public Letter


President is the first serving Head of Government to declare unequivocally that the War on Drugs has failed.

July 2012

The Beckley Foundation is launching in Guatemala at the invitation of President Otto Pérez Molina, in order to assist in the development of new and more effective drug policies. The President will sign the Beckley Foundation Public Letter stating that the War on Drugs has failed and calling for open debate on alternative policies.

The Beckley Foundation Guatemala will be formally inaugurated on 3 July by President Pérez together with the Foundation’s Director, Amanda Feilding, at the Presidential Palace in Guatemala City.

The President is the first serving Head of Government to declare unequivocally that the War on Drugs has failed. This pioneering and dynamic move marks an important shift in global drug policy, and opens the stage to other Latin American and global leaders to review the efficacy of their own policies.

Otto Pérez Molina became President in January 2012. Within two days of taking office, he surprised everyone by calling for a rethink of national and regional drug policy, and a possible move towards decriminalisation and regulation.

Guatemala has been ravaged by drug-related violence and corruption due its position as a bridge between the major drug-producing countries of South America and the world’s largest drug consumer, the USA. Since his election, Pérez has continued to develop and express his view that drug policies have failed and need to change. As a retired general and Director of Military Intelligence with responsibility for anti-trafficking, he speaks with particular authority in this area.

At the inaugural ceremony, the President will become the first acting Head of Government to sign the Beckley Foundation Public Letter. This calls upon Governments and Parliaments to recognise that the global War on Drugs has not only failed, but has had many unintended and devastating consequences worldwide. It highlights the urgent need to explore new policies based on scientific evidence.

The President has always been clear that there is ‘no easy solution to the problems arising from drug trafficking and drug misuse’. He has therefore requested that the Foundation convene an Advisory Board of international policy experts who will assist in:

producing a rigorous, evidence-based analysis of the impact of current drug policies on Guatemala and the wider region.

The Beckley Foundation will spearhead researching and elaborating a series of alternative drug policy options that would seek to reduce the violence and corruption suffered by Guatemala and other producer and transit countries as a result of the current policies. This would allow resources currently devoted to tackling violence and criminality to be re-allocated for health, education and development.

Given the President’s unique and pioneering role in drug policy reform, it is a particular honor that the Beckley Foundation has been selected to prepare these Reports, which will support the President and his Government in the development of new drug policies and harm reduction strategies. This ground-breaking research will inform the President’s presentations at key international meetings, including the UN and the World Economic Forum in Davos.


“Improving our drug policy is one of the key policy challenges of our time. Let us break the taboo on debate and reform, and RETHINK global drug policy.”
Amanda Feilding, Director of the Beckley Foundation