Leading opposition Senator Gustavo Petro upset Colombia’s sugar plantation owners on Monday by confirming that sugar kills more people than cocaine.
The leftist Senator made the claim amid a public debate over drug use that followed a Constitutional Court ruling that confirmed that the consumption of alcohol and drugs in public is a constitutional right.
Petro tweeted his controversial claim in response to far-right senator and sugar plantation owner Maria Fernanda Cabal’s claim that the court “ignores the risk our children are exposed to consumers of drugs and alcohol.”
“Did you know that sugar is a much more dangerous drug than marijuana or cocaine? We have sown 250,000 hectares to produce one of the worst drugs in the history of mankind, sugar,” Petro responded.
His tweet triggered a wave of indignation from politicians from Valle del Cauca, where Cabal and many other plantation owners grow sugarcane.
Valle del Cauca governor Dilian Francisca Toro responded that “populism has no values when it compares illicit crops with the production of sugarcane, which generates thousands of jobs and legal wealth.”
“In Valle del Cauca we put out heart in the legal economy,” said the politician, who is under investigation for allegedly creating hundreds of fake jobs in her office.
Toro was supported by her political ally, House Representative Christian Garces of the far-right Democratic Center party, who accused Petro of “seeking to destroy the sugar industry in the north of Cauca, Valle del Cauca and part of the coffee region.”
“The radical left attacks sugar because it generates stability (jobs, revenue, security) in Valle del Cauca, impeding that lawlessness takes control of the southeast and then finishes off with the country,” said Garces.
While Petro’s claims are apparently not the way to make political allies in Valle del Cauca, his claims are supported by scientific and statistical studies.
According to the United States’ Center for Disease Control (CDC), overdoses involving cocaine killed almost 14,000 Americans in 2017. In almost three quarters of these cases, the overdose was the result of a drug user combining cocaine with an opiode, according to the CDC.
A 2015 study said that some 25,000 Americans die annually as the result of health complications caused by the consumption of sugary drinks.
In regards to marijuana, there exists no record of deaths related to the consumption of this drug.