New Colombian President Gustavo Petro aims to end the war on drugs

New Colombian President Gustavo Petro aims to end the war on drugs

As soon as he was sworn in, President Petro suggested creating an international fund to protect the Amazon and proposed to rethink the policy of eradicating coca crops.

Accompanied by his wife, Colombia's new president Gustavo Petro was sworn in on Sunday .

The first left-wing president in the history of Colombia, Gustavo Petro was sworn in on Sunday in front of thousands of people in Bogota, calling on armed groups to sign peace and to end the war on drugs, held in check.

This 62-year-old ex-guerrilla succeeds the very unpopular Ivan Duque (2018-2022) for a four-year term which he begins with the support of a left-wing majority in Congress. Colombia, long ruled by a conservative elite, thus places itself on a trajectory common to other Latin American countries which are experiencing a left turn.

In particular, he offered the armed groups operating in Colombia legal advantages if they signed peace: We call on […] all armed groups to relegate arms to the nebulae of the past. To accept legal benefits in exchange for peace and in exchange for a permanent end to the violence, he said.

Although the agreement peace with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC, Marxists) in 2016 reduced violence, Colombia has yet to extinguish the last internal armed conflict on the continent.

In addition to the National Liberation Army (ELN), powerful gangs of drug traffickers such as the Clan del Golfo, led by Baron Otoniel extradited this year to the United States, impose their law in several regions of the country. And FARC dissidents are also challenging the state with resources from illegal mining and, above all, drug trafficking.

On this point, Mr. Petro proposes to rethink the failure of the crop eradication policy, in collaboration with the United States, the main consumer of this coca leaf derivative.

< p class="e-p">He also considered that it was time to have a new international convention which accepts that the war on drugs has failed, and to favor a strong policy of prevention of consumption in developed countries.

Colombia is struggling to eradicate coca cultivation, from which cocaine is derived. (Archives)

According to him, in 40 years of the fight against drugs, one million Latin Americans have been murdered and 70,000 North Americans die of drug overdoses each year.

Colombia is the world's largest producer of cocaine, with the United States as its largest customer.

“The war on drugs has strengthened mafias and weakened states.

—Gustavo Petro, President of Colombia

Mr. Petro, who left the armed rebellion three decades ago, was sworn in in Bogotá's Bolivar Square before a large delegation of international guests and a huge crowd.

The first government which we hope will be a government of peace is about to begin. We hope he can bring to Colombia what it has not had for centuries, namely tranquility and peace, Mr. Petro said on Saturday in the capital during a ;a first induction ceremony with indigenous, Afro-Colombian and peasant peoples.

The two-decade former opposition leader takes office with a package of environmental reforms that have raised high expectations among his supporters since his victory on June 19.

Where is the global fund to save the Amazon rainforest? […] We can transform the entire population of the Colombian Amazon into a forest-protecting population, but we need funding from around the world to do this, President Petro said.

< p class="e-p">To protect the lungs of the planet, Mr. Petro suggested that the international community reduce foreign debt in favor of financing actions to save and restore our forests.

Alongside her, environmentalist Francia Marquez, 40, is the first Afro-Colombian vice president of a nation that has historically been ruled by white male elites.

New Colombian Vice President Francia Marquez, from the Pacto Historico coalition, celebrates after winning the presidential run-off on June 19, 2022 in Bogota.

Mr. Petro starts from an enviable position, with a large majority in parliament and enjoys street-level support that no government has had in recent years, the minister believes. x27;expert Jorge Restrepo, from the Resource Center for Conflict Analysis (Cerac).

Gustavo Petro has formed a plural government, with women at the head of several portfolios, with the mission of advancing the reforms that will begin their legislative journey on Monday.

In search of resources to finance social reform plans, bills intend to increase taxes on the wealthy, improve their collection and tax sugary drinks.

But the level of debt and budget deficit we found is critical, said Daniel Rojas, one of the coordinators of the transition commission with the government of his predecessor Ivan Duque.

< p class="e-p">Mr. Despite everything, Petro intends to fulfill his promise to reduce the gap between the richest and the poorest by developing access to credit, increasing aid and emphasizing education.

While the Colombian economy has recovered from the pandemic and returned to growth, the 10.2% year-on-year inflation in July, unemployment (11.7% ) and the 39% poverty rate make the challenges even greater.

On the international level, Mr. Petro will reactivate the diplomatic and commercial relations broken off since 2019 with neighboring Venezuela of Nicolas Maduro, and seek support to resume peace talks with the National Liberation Army (ELN), the last recognized guerrilla in the country.

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