President Juan Manuel Santos said during his appearance at the Hay Festival in Cartagena that he would legalize drugs in Colombia, the world's largest cocaine producer, if that decision is accepted by the rest of the world.

Santos on Saturday participated in this prestigious literary festival along with Mexican author Carlos Funtes and former Nicaraguan Vice President Sergio Ramírez, also a writer, in a seminar entitled "Ideas para un mundo in transicion" (Ideas for a world in transition), at which consequences of drug trafficking became the main elements of the debate.

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The Colombian leader responded with his remarks after both Fuentes and Ramírez said that beginning to resolve the situation being suffered by Central American countries and Mexico lies in "decriminalizing" drugs.

"That solution would be acceptable to Colombia if the whole world makes it," Santos said at the most heated moment of a discussion that highlighted Latin America's great scourge: drug-related violence.

Fuentes also repeated the need for that course of action on Sunday, in a message that he had sent at the same literary festival on Friday, when he held a dialogue with Colombian writers Sergio Gamboa and Juan Gabriel Vasquez in which the matter was also discussed.

"Central America has a tragic position, geographically it's a bridge for drugs from south to north, we can't leave. Drugs pass through Central America and, just as Mexico experienced Colombianization, now Central America is Mexicanizing. Guatemala is a branch office of hell," Fuentes said.

To the applause of the public, Ramírez remarked that "the solution goes through decriminalization."

Santos recalled that in a recent speech in the United States he had said that "this matter cannot continue being taboo" and that "alternatives must be sought" because, he added, "drug trafficking is financing all the violent groups."

"We cannot do anything different from combating it throughout the chain, but this policy is mistaken because it has contradictory elements," Santos said.

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Fuentes, for his part, made clear that "the demand is North American and nobody is criminalizing it" and he added that once drugs cross the border, in the United States "nobody criminalizes it, we don't know who consumes it, who distributes it" and all that has great consequences for asset laundering and for violence in neighboring countries.

"There is an obligation for the Mexican president, he has to confront the president of the United States with these facts, speak about a problem that concerns both. There are also guilty parties on the U.S. side, it's an unresolved issue," Fuentes said. 

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