The presidents of Colombia and Mexico have asked the rest of Latin America to unify their positions to rethink the failed war on drugs. “What I propose is to have a different and unified voice that defends our societies, our future and our history. And stop repeating a failed speech that has already failed, ”said Gustavo Petro, host of his counterpart Andrés Manuel López Obrador, during the closing of the Latin American conference on drugs that his government convened in Cali. “We are the biggest victims of this policy,” Petro lamented before a laudatory López Obrador, who described him as a “brother” and “companion” in a waste of ideological harmony between two progressive leaders.
Since taking office, Petro insists on the need to change the paradigm of the anti-drug fight. The so-called war on drugs that is now half a century old has caused a “genocide” in Latin America, with a million deaths, he assured in a speech peppered with criticism of the United States. “Before we thought it was a Colombian problem, we were locked up, flooded with our own blood, alone. But today that is not the case,” he said, since this policy has turned all Latin American societies into victims of its consequences.
The leaders of the two countries hardest hit by cartel violence agreed on the need to demilitarize drug policy and prioritize a public health approach. “The fundamental thing to confront the scourge of drug addiction and violence is to address the causes, with a new criterion, not only think about coercive measures,” said López Obrador. “We have to put forward the criterion that peace is the fruit of justice. We have to fight first against poverty, against inequality. To confront the problem of violence, we must offer jobs, good salaries, serve young people, guarantee them the opportunity to study and work,” added the Mexican, who also called for not turning our backs on the problem of fentanyl in the United States. Joined. “We have a moral obligation,” he declared.
López Obrador’s first official visit as head of state to Colombia occurs after the advance of the left in several Latin American countries, a progressive axis supported by the return of Lula da Silva in Brazil. It also takes place on the eve of the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the coup d’état against Salvador Allende organized by the Government of Gabriel Boric in Chile, where both Petro and López Obrador will travel this Saturday. “There in La Moneda they killed a president, because he had an illusion and made the people delude him with social justice. There they ended a path that we have taken up until now, that is why we will be there”, Petro commented on the trip.
The Cali conference is the first stone for a new roadmap that will lead to the formation of a working group and, later, a large summit of Latin American presidents. The Foreign Ministries of both countries have asked the rest of the region to unify positions in “a single voice” that changes the traditional narrative on drugs, with a more comprehensive view, in search of a profound change.
The president of Colombia, the world’s largest producer of coca leaf and cocaine, has insistently demanded this turn since he launched that remembered phrase in his first speech before the UN General Assembly, in September last year: “I demand From here, from my wounded Latin America, end the irrational war on drugs.” Broadly speaking, Petro proposes to stop criminalizing the weakest links in the chain, the coca growers, and concentrate efforts on hitting the large criminal organizations that profit from drug trafficking.
The analysis of current events and the best stories from Colombia, every week in your mailbox
When he visited López Obrador in Mexico City last November, the two leaders had already proposed calling on the rest of the region to “redesign and rethink” drug policy. This call has added support, among them that of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, to which both former Colombian presidents César Gaviria (1990-1994) and Juan Manuel Santos (2010-2018) and the Mexican Ernesto Zedillo (1994- 2000). The fight against drug trafficking needs profound changes like those requested by Petro, since the policy of prohibition failed, the commission has said.
Colombia’s new national drug policy
Colombia has reached the largest extent of coca leaf cultivation, the raw material for cocaine, since records have been kept. The total land soared from 143,000 to 204,000 hectares at the end of 2021, according to the latest annual report of the United Nations Integrated System for Monitoring Illicit Crops (SIMCI), which will present the results for the year 2022 this Monday. That trend The rise (which precedes Petro) has even led the United States, the world’s largest consumer, to loudly express its concern.
The Government also took advantage of the Cali conference to present Colombia’s long-awaited national drug policy, based on the protection of human rights and environmental conservation. It has taken Petro the long year that he has been in power to build the new policy, led mainly by the Ministry of Justice, in an effort to suffocate the mafias associated with drug trafficking and at the same time give oxygen to the peasants, with the arrival of the Social State of Law to places in the territory where it had never reached.
The Minister of Justice, Néstor Osuna, had explained the day before that he tries to prioritize and strategically focus the criminal and punitive effort “on what really harms Colombian society, on the drug trafficking mafias, the large amounts of money behind of these illegal economies because they produce violence, displacement and armed conflict”. The policy is designed for the next ten years, but it is proposed to reduce cocaine production by nearly 40% in the three years that this Government has left, the minister detailed, as well as support 50,000 of the approximately 115,000 families that live of coca cultivation so that they transition to legal economies.
Subscribe here to the EL PAÍS newsletter about Colombia and receive all the key information on current events in the country.
#Colombia #Mexico #single #Latin #American #voice #drugs #biggest #victims #policy