Source: unic.org

Drug cartels now threaten the basic stability and social fabric of many Central American countries, Costa Rica's President told the United Nations today, warning that the battle against narco-trafficking can only be won if nations worldwide overhaul their current strategies.

“If we don't react, we are at risk of being virtually taken by their gangs, with consequences that will transcend local spaces and will turn into a clear challenge to international security,” Laura Chinchilla Miranda said.

She told the opening day of the General Assembly's high-level debate that the illicit drug trade puts in jeopardy the development gains posted by many Central American countries in recent years.

“From being just a transit point, due to our geographical location between the great drug producers of the south and the great consumers of the north, ours have been becoming, with different degrees, countries that produce, traffic and consume drugs.

“We are not free today of any of the manifestations of the drug trade, which has extended its tentacles to many areas of our social life. Youngsters, in their schools and neighbourhoods, see their future menaced by the easy offer of drugs; our health systems are overwhelmed by the problem of addiction; the integrity of our institutions is menaced by corruption and aggression, and violence reaches never-seen levels.”

Ms. Chinchilla Miranda said it was time for countries to both better coordinate their anti-drug strategies and to overhaul their existing policies, many of which had failed.

“I call to the highest drug-consuming countries so that they undertake more effective actions against such major problems, and cooperate with the countries suffering from a malaise we have not created.

“I make an urgent call for worldwide solidarity in this chore, and for multilateral organizations to develop an agenda more integral in its strategies, more balanced on its resources and responsibilities, and better supervised through its development. If no new efforts germinate in a vigorous manner, we will repent very soon of the inaction.”

Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli Berrocal also sounded the alarm during his address to the General Assembly about the threats posed by narco-trafficking.

“For Panama and the Central American region, drugs are our weapons of mass destruction,” he said. “Drug traffickers filter through our land and sea borders in order to pollute our youth with their poison.”

Mr. Martinelli Berrocal said the crime problem extended beyond drugs, incorporating trafficking in weapons, human organs and persons, as well as money laundering, illegal migration and terrorism.

“The trafficking and possession of illegal weapons has a devastating effect on human security and governability in our countries.”

The President noted that members of the Central American Integration System, a regional economic, political and cultural grouping, have decided to set up a regional security coordination centre.

“These regional efforts, based in my country, to fight against trans-national organized crime are already yielding encouraging results. We understand that it is vital to work jointly to improve the function of international institutions, for the benefit of humanity.”