EL ESPECTADOR, July 8, 2022

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

In an interview with a Brazilian newspaper, the former President of Colombia talked about the peace process, his proposal for legalizing drugs, and other matters.

In spite of being apparently unconnected to national politics, the name of former President Juan Manuel Santos has hit the headlines several times in the recent election competition, and even more recently in the formation of Gustavo Petro’s cabinet, as some who were on the Santos team will also be at the side of the leftist Chief Executive. For many observers, this is also kind of a wink at the Nobel Prize.

However, just up to now, the President of Colombia between 2010 and 2018 has started to speak directly about what took place in the recent contest for the leadership of the government, and of Petro’s triumph. In an interview with the Brazilian newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo, Santos announced his total support for the President-Elect, particularly with regard to the peace.

“I support the new President of Colombia 100% in his determination to implement the peace process and have the JEP as a model for the pacification of the country,” said the former Chief Executive. He added that the application of the Peace Agreement would by itself generate a transformation that, “Petro understands.”  Therefore, he concluded, “I think we are on the right path, and that path has our support.”

Santos also said that the Agreement he signed with the now-defunct FARC did not only begin to provide solutions to the Colombian conflict, but it also touched on related subjects, such as land ownership. “Colombia is a very unequal country, with ownership of 80% of its land concentrated in the hands of a few families. Agrarian reform is one of the first articles in the Agreement,” he said.

In the interview with the Brazilian newspaper, he also spoke about the possibility of applying the transitional justice model of the JEP[1] in other situations. “I think it’s a valuable model, but it can’t be applied in the same way to guerrillas and to criminal groups. Those cases are different. Even so, I would argue for their submission to the legal system, and that the penalties don’t necessarily have to be imprisonment.”

Besides talking about the peace process, Santos defended drug legalization as a method of closing down the transnational mafias. On that subject, he emphasized that he was working with the former President of Brazil, Fernando Henrique Cardoso, to conduct the debate about the decriminalization of drugs.

[1] JEP is the Special Jurisdiction for Peace, as provided in the Peace Agreement.

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