A year and a half ago, in June 2013, José Miguel Insulza, the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), presented a two-part “Report on the Drug Problem in the Americas” to the Foreign Ministers of all of the countries in the Americas at the OAS’s annual General Assembly. The first part was an Analytical Report about the past and present of this problem, and the second was a Scenario Report about possible futures.
The preparation of these reports had been mandated a year earlier by the Heads of State of these countries at their Summit of the Americas. The Summit’s host, Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos, had articulated the imperative for this work. He pointed out that the “war on drugs,” which his country and others in the hemisphere had been pursuing at enormous cost for 40 years, was not being won. In spite of progress in some areas, the problems of drugs had remained terribly and frustratingly stuck, with continued high levels of addiction, incarceration, and violence. “Sometimes we all feel that we have been pedalling on a stationary bicycle,” he said. “We look to our right and our left and we still see the same landscape.” At the conclusion of the Summit, he announced: “We, the region's leaders, held an invaluable discussion on the global drug problem. We agreed on the need to analyse the results of the current policy in the Americas and to explore new approaches to strengthen this struggle and to become more effective. We have issued the OAS a mandate to that end.”