Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said Friday the United States announcement that it is willing to discuss drug legalization was “very important.”
Responding to a U.S. statement that it would participate in talks on drug legalization at the upcoming Summit of the Americas in Colombia — the first time it has discussed the issue in a multilateral setting — Santos told W Radio, “I believe this is something that has to be valued and channeled in a positive way, so that if this discussion takes place, it is something that really brings, if we find it, a better solution to the world to the terrible issue of drug trafficking.”
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Mike Hammer told newspaper El Tiempo that his government was “ready to discuss the issue,” albeit only in order to reiterate “why is not the way to address the problem.”
It was still a “very important” decision, said Santos, and the discussion was “welcome.” The Colombian leader has been working hard alongside Guatemalan President Otto Perez in recent months to get the issue of drug legalization onto the international agenda.
“Colombia, and I personally, have put this issue on the table, because it is a country that has suffered the scourge of drug trafficking, that has seen more blood spilt that any other country,” said Santos.
“We have been relatively successful in our fight against drug trafficking and we have applied an integral strategy, attacking every link in the chain. (…) However, a lot of the time one makes a huge effort, pushing and pushing, then you look to your left or your right and see that while in your case you have advanced, the world is still the same or worse.”