EL ESPECTADOR, November 9, 2022

(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

The former Presidents Juan Manuel Santos and César Gaviria supported that proposal, and reiterated that the “war on drugs” has failed.

The Global Commission on Drug Policy (Cpgd), an organization of experts and former heads of state, presented a new report, “Drug Policy in Colombia: The Road to Fair Regulation” this Wednesday November 9 at a forum in Bogotá. The former Presidents of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos and César Gaviria, both members of the Commission, participated in the forum, as well as the former President of Switzerland, Ruth Dreifuss, and the former President of México, Ernesto Zedillo.

At the forum, the members of the Commission reiterated that drug trafficking has penetrated multiple spheres of social life in Colombia, and has nurtured the armed conflict. Because of that, the report proposes five recommendations to the national administration that relate to drug policy, in line with the stipulation in the Peace Agreement between the Colombian government and the FARC-EP: treat the problem humanely.

These are the recommendations:

  1. Create a policy that regulates drugs
  2. The drug policy should have a distinctive focus that prioritizes human rights.
  3. Decriminalize drug consumption, production, and plantings of drugs, and other non-violent illegal activities related to drugs.
  4. Repair the damage caused by the prohibition-focused drug policies.
  5. Fortify the institutions: not just with their capacities for prosecuting and convicting drug traffickers, but also for the construction of the social fabric.

The report contemplates the new drug policy as an agenda that’s separate from security. That’s to say, it implies reinterpreting drug policy so that it is a matter of public health, oriented toward human rights and the mitigation of risks, and not a threat to security that is dealt with by military actions and the prosecution of the user.

The new drug policy that the report recommends must be designed by national, regional, and local authorities and must be directed toward legalization of all the drugs that have been illegal: cannabis, coca leaf and cocaine, and opium or opium poppy, which are the three largest drug-producing crops in Colombia.

“Latin America has been suffering a phenomenon that we are seeing from México to Argentina, and it is the empowerment of organized crime. In many areas now in Latin America, I repeat, from México to Argentina, the ones controlling the countryside are not the government, but organized crime, and the democracies are getting weaker in all the countries because of this phenomenon,” warned former President Santos.

For his part, former President Gaviria added that Colombia has been one of the countries harmed the most by the prohibition-focused and punitive attitude on drugs, which is actively violating human rights, threatening the construction of the peace, and undermining the country’s economic development potential.

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