The US is willing to have an “open and honest discussion” about the so-called war on drugs with Colombia’s new president, Gustavo Petros, who stressed in his inauguration speech that his goal is to end, members of the American delegation in Bogota said yesterday Monday.
“I think what the president (Petro) wants is to secure peace. That’s also in the interest of the US. So that’s the basis for an open and honest discussion,” Democratic Rep. Gregory Meeks said during a news conference.
Mr. Mix was part of the delegation that attended last Sunday’s inauguration of the first president in the history of Colombia who belongs to the left. It was headed by Samantha Power, head of the US Agency for International Development (USAID).
During his speech immediately after his inauguration, Mr. Petros stressed that it is “time for a new international consensus, which will accept that the war on drugs has failed”, and will emphasize the “robust prevention policy of consumption” in developed countries.
Rep. Meeks said he was “impressed” by the speech, in which Mr. Petro also referred to the 1 million Latin American deaths in the forty years of the war on drugs and the 70,000 North Americans who succumb to drug overdoses each year.
“We agreed to talk, to discuss the need to end the violence that was referred to,” assured the American politician, who represents the state of New York.
Colombia is the country where the largest production of cocaine is recorded in the world; the USA is the country with the largest consumption of this substance in the world. Drug trafficking is also a key source of funding for the armed organizations operating in Colombian territory.
There are “differences” of opinion, but there will certainly be a “discussion”, as “we agree that drug trafficking has devastating consequences for the populations of both Colombia and the United States”, Ms. Power assured for her part.
After meeting with Mr Petros and his vice-president Franca Marquez yesterday, Ms Power highlighted on Twitter the need for action on the “climate crisis” as well as a “shared commitment to advance the peace process” in Colombia.
At the press conference, she spoke of a “tremendous opportunity” in the fight against deforestation and climate change. He described Colombia as potentially a leading force in this race in the region. “What we have now is a president and a vice president who see themselves as conservationists — almost first and foremost,” Ms. Power summed up. “We see this as a huge opportunity.”
He added that Mr. Petro mentioned several common goals, but reiterated the position that other US officials have made, that Washington and Bogotá are not going to agree on everything.
The new president wants to phase out oil extraction in Colombia and move Latin America’s fourth-largest economy to produce clean energy from renewable sources, Ms. Power recalled. The private sector “is very interested in Colombia. There are many ways to stimulate investment in the energy transition to renewable sources (…). I think you will start to see an acceleration of that,” added the head of USAID.
Gustavo Petro proposes to suspend the extradition to the US of drug traffickers who guarantee the “peaceful dismantling” of their activities. The new head of state acknowledges, however, that this will depend on the “negotiation” with Washington, which has not yet spoken about it.
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