Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said Thursday that the international community failed to win the “War on Drugs” and reiterated his call to debate possible new ways to combat drug abuse and trafficking.
“This war that was declared, in the breast of the United Nations, is a war that today, unfortunately, we can say we haven’t won, in spite of Colombia being the country that, in a way, has given most sacrifices, spilled most blood,” Santos said while inaugurating his country’s new ambassador to the UN, Maria Emma Mejia.
While admitting to not winning the war on drugs, Santos stressed his country’s “relative successes” in its efforts to curb drug trafficking.
Colombia’s experience with drug trafficking, in particular of cocaine, provides the country with the necessary “authority to talk about the subject.”
Santos called on Mejia to begin preparing Colombia’s contribution to a UN assembly held in 2016 during which member countries will debate the ongoing war on drugs that has received increased criticism among Latin American leaders where most drug violence takes place.
The Colombian head of state is one of a number of Latin American leaders who have called on Washington to allow a revision of the war on drugs. Santos recently criticized the legalization of marijuana in the US states of Washington and Colorado, claiming there is a discrepancy between Washington’s internal policies and those abroad.
“How can I tell the farmer who grows marijuana in the mountains of Colombia he will go to jail for doing so, when smoking marijuana is legal in the states of Colorado and Washington,” Santos asked rhetorically at the World Economic Forum last month.
Colombia, one of the world’s top producers of coca, has been one of the hardest-hit by drug trafficking. The country’s production of coca and trafficking of cocaine has fueled an armed conflict that has left hundreds of thousands dead since the 1940s.