Colombia’s not too long ago inaugurated president informed members of the United Nations (UN) on Tuesday that “democracy will die” if international powers don’t unite to finish the drug battle and pursue a distinct method, with tens of millions of lives on the road below the present regime.
President Gustavo Petro additionally individually mentioned in a brand new interview this week that the U.S. and different international locations will allow a “genocide” of avoidable overdose deaths if leaders keep the established order of criminalization.
In a speech earlier than the UN’s Common Meeting on Tuesday, Petro mentioned definitively that the “battle on medication has failed,” in keeping with a translation.
“The battle on medication has lasted 40 years. If we don’t appropriate the course, and this continues one other 40 years, the US will see 2.8 million die of overdoses [from fentanyl], which isn’t produced in our Latin America,” he mentioned. “You will notice tens of millions of African People be imprisoned of their personal prisons. The [Black] prisoner will change into a enterprise of jail firms.”
“Les propongo como Presidente de uno de los paises más hermosos de la tierra y de los más ensangrentados y violentados, acabar la guerra contra las drogas, y así, permitir que nuestro pueblo pueda vivir en paz”: Presidente @petrogustavo en la @UN. #ColombiaEnLaONU #UNGA pic.twitter.com/U6D1iraodU
— Presidencia Colombia (@infopresidencia) September 20, 2022
The president added that one other a million Latin People will die as a penalties of this coverage and “they’ll fill our lives with blood.”
They’ll “see the dream of democracy die, each in my America as in Anglo-Saxon America,” he mentioned.
In the meantime, throughout his first U.S. broadcast interview, Petro put the scenario in equally stark phrases, saying that whereas he’s spoken with officers within the Biden administration who’ve acknowledged the failures of drug criminalization, there should be a united effort to alter course, or else international locations pays the value.
“The American authorities is sort of a sluggish animal. Nice transformations don’t occur in a single day,” Petro informed GZERO, in keeping with a translation. “They occur very slowly. I’ve noticed a way more open mindset in Biden authorities officers as we speak round this subject.”
He mentioned that the Biden administration understands that criminalization has led to the incarceration of tens of millions of individuals, disproportionately Black People.
Prohibition “will go away us Latin People with a million extra useless and the mafia organizations can be ten instances extra highly effective than they already are,” he acknowledged.
Petro, a liberal who campaigned on taking a radically completely different method to drug points, mentioned that famed drug trafficker Pablo Escobar would “shudder” on the power of as we speak’s “multinational cocaine organizations” which might be “sturdy just because medication are banned.”
“The battle on medication has created its personal enemy, which has grown in energy and power,” the president mentioned. “Peace in Colombia relies on constructing a brand new drug coverage on a brand new imaginative and prescient. If not, they condemn us to genocide.”
He additionally harassed that Latin American international locations should “come collectively on this,” saying that it’s “shameful that we’ve got been the producers of the coca leaf or cocaine” and “believed that we should silence ourselves and settle for the insurance policies of world energy on this regard, although they’re completely fallacious.”
“This should finish. We should not have to be an area for genocide for the deaths of tens of millions of individuals due to a coverage that’s fully fallacious,” he mentioned. “A dialogue with the world is required—a dialogue with the US with an impartial voice.”
Petro additionally not too long ago talked in regards to the prospects of legalizing marijuana in Colombia as one technique of decreasing the affect of the illicit market. And he signaled that the coverage change ought to be adopted by releasing people who find themselves presently in jail over hashish.
He spoke in regards to the financial potential of a authorized hashish trade, one the place small cities in locations just like the Andes, Corinto and Miranda might stand to profit from authorized marijuana cultivation, probably with none licensing necessities.
The president additionally signaled that he’d be excited by exploring the concept of exporting hashish to different international locations the place the plant is authorized.
A legalization invoice championed by Colombian Sen. Gustavo Bolívar was launched in July, and the senator mentioned that the reform is inside attain now that the nation’s Congress has a liberal majority of lawmakers who match inside a political coalition generally known as the Historic Pact.
In the meantime, Petro additionally not too long ago mentioned his views on ending the broader battle on drug in his inaugural handle final month, emphasizing the necessity for the worldwide group to change into unified round the concept criminalization as a coverage has failed.
U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), who chairs the highly effective Home Guidelines Committee, cheered the official swearing in of Petro, saying that he seems ahead to “working collectively to…rethink drug coverage, and far more.”
President Joe Biden, however, appears intent on perpetuating the drug battle in Colombia, with U.S. navy help. He launched a memorandum to the protection secretary final month that authorizes the “interdiction of plane moderately suspected to be primarily engaged in illicit drug trafficking in that nation’s airspace.”
He mentioned that it’s “mandatory due to the extraordinary risk posed by illicit drug trafficking to the nationwide safety of that nation” and since “Colombia has applicable procedures in place to guard towards harmless lack of life within the air and on the bottom in reference to such interdiction, which incorporates efficient means to establish and warn an plane earlier than using pressure is directed towards the plane.”
As a former member of Colombia’s M-19 guerrilla group, Petro has seen the violent battle between guerrilla fighters, narcoparamilitary teams and drug cartels that has been exacerbated by the federal government’s aggressive method to drug enforcement.
Based on the United Nations Workplace of Drug Management Coverage (ONDCP), Colombia stays a chief exporter of cocaine, regardless of “drug provide discount actions in Colombia, similar to eradication of coca bush and destruction of laboratories.”
In 2020, Colombian legislators launched a invoice that will have regulated coca, the plant that’s processed to provide cocaine, in an acknowledgment that the federal government’s decades-long struggle towards the drug and its procedures have constantly failed. That laws cleared a committee, however it was finally shelved by the general conservative legislature.
Advocates are optimistic that such a proposal might advance below a Petro administration. The president hasn’t taken a transparent stance on the laws itself, however he campaigned on legalizing marijuana and promoted the concept of hashish as an alternative choice to cocaine.
Former Colombia President Juan Manuel Santos has additionally been essential of the drug battle and embraced reform. In an editorial printed earlier than he left workplace, he criticized the United Nations and U.S. President Richard Nixon for his or her function in setting a drug battle customary that has proved ineffective at finest and counterproductive at worst.
“It’s time we speak about accountable authorities regulation, search for methods to chop off the drug mafias’ air provide, and deal with the issues of drug use with higher sources for prevention, care and hurt discount with regard to public well being and the social cloth,” he mentioned.
“This reflection should be international in scope with the intention to be efficient,” Santos, who’s a member of the pro-reform World Fee on Drug Coverage, mentioned. “It should even be broad, together with participation not solely of governments but additionally of academia and civil society. It should attain past regulation enforcement and judicial authorities and contain specialists in public well being, economists and educators, amongst different disciplines.”
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Picture component courtesy of Bryan Pocius.
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