Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos asked that European consumers of cocaine reflect on the impact of their actions, saying that “cocaine is destroying my country.”
Santos argued that people consuming cocaine are helping to generate and sustain violent conflict and criminal activity, as well as adding to the environmental degradation of Colombia.
“Every time that someone inhales cocaine he destroys the environment in the tropical forests because it stimulates deforestation, and numerous people can die,” said Santos in an interview with British newspaper Metro, in anticipation of his official visit to the UK this week.
The president said he believes it is time to rethink the war on drugs and to explore new avenues, saying that “For Colombia, it’s a matter of national security.”
“What I think the world should do is sit down and rationally discuss this problem, which is growing – it’s not diminishing, it’s growing,” said Santos.
Santos has made similar statements before, arguing that it is necessary to rethink the way that governments around the world penalize drug use due to the fact that his country is suffering the most from high drug consumption in countries such as the U.K., the U.S. and Europe in general.
The Colombian president has suggested that it is necessary to legalize cocaine due to the negative impact of the drug on his country, however he is unwilling to be the first world leader to promote legalization due to fear of being stigmatized.