Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., will travel Thursday to the sixth Summit of the Americas, which will take place Friday and Saturday in Cartagena, Colombia.
Alex Conant, spokesman for Rubio’s office, tells The Florida Independent that “Rubio has pushed to promote democracy in the western hemisphere” and that “this summit is a good opportunity for the senator to discuss the importance of democracy with leaders from around the region, and help strengthen America’s relationships in this important part of the world.”
Conant confirmed Rubio has meetings with leaders from the region, adding, “We don’t have anything to announce yet.”
Conant tells the Independent he has not seen any comments about calls from several Latin American leaders for a discussion of the current war on drugs. “As far as I know, the senator has not commented on them,” Conant said.
Current and former Latin American leaders are calling for alternatives to existing U.S. drug war policies that have failed and led to more violence and corruption.
Guatemala announced today it will propose the creation of an “academic and scientific commission to analyze the initiative to depenalize drugs, and that the commission results be made public at the next assembly of the organization of American States, to be held in June,” the Spanish news outlet La Informacion reported Wednesday.
Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos said Sunday that he calls for an open debate about whether to continue the current war on drugs or to explore other routes, including legalization.
The president of Guatemala, Otto Perez Molina, wrote this weekend in the The Guardian that “facts are what we need to concentrate on when considering drug policy options. When we analyse drug markets through realistic lenses (not ideological ones as is pretty much customary in most government circles these days), we realise that drug consumption is a public health issue that, awkwardly, has been transformed into a criminal justice problem.”
In late March, Perez Molina called for a debate on alternatives to the drug war, alternatives that could include legalizing drugs, at the upcoming Cartagena summit.
According to Colombia Reports, President Obama “is expected to announce that Colombia has met the labor rights conditions required for final approval of the [Free Trade Agreement] at the upcoming Summit of the Americas, despite ongoing violence against unionists in the country. Since January 2012, four union members have been killed across the country, while dozens were murdered in 2011- Colombian unions say 51, the government says 30.”
The murder of four Colombian union leaders prompted Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, to urge Obama to postpone indefinitely the implementation of the Colombia Free Trade Agreement, approved by the U.S. Congress in October.
Conant tells the Independent that Rubio voted for and supports final approval of the U.S.-Colombia Free Trade Agreement.