Singer Juanes Friday said that decriminalizing drugs would help to end Colombia’s armed conflict.
Following discussions with land mine victims at the Ottawa World Summit held this week in Cartagena, the Colombian singer suggested the decriminalization of drugs as a strategy to end the country’s interminable conflict.
Juanes stated he believed the government needed to try different approaches to the county’s armed groups, “we have to humanize the conflict, beginning by talking simply about things, such as how to be able to walk [safely] to school from one’s house,” reported newspaper El Colombiano.
Juanes also conveyed his desire to contribute to negotiations between the government and illegal armed groups, “I am very interested to see what we could do … what we can see is that civil society is very interested in participating more in the construction of peace. We know that the government policy is [closed to the public] but how long is it going to continue like this?”
The singer’s statements came during a section of the summit in which more than 500 people affected by land mines from Cambodia, El Salvador and Colombia were invited to voice their opinions. Juanes claimed that there should no longer be a deadline by which victims have to activate their rights – the deadline in Colombia being six months.
“A victim does not stop being a victim after six months. There should not be deadlines or limits by which time the victims has to exercise their rights,” stressed Zenaida Arias, who lost two brothers in a land mine accident.
Those present at the summit demanded that the government provide a disability pension for victims who had lost 50% or more of their mobility in land mine accidents.
In response to these these proposals, Andres Davila, director of Colombia’s Action Against Land Mines Program announced that there was likely to be an extension of the rights deadline from six months to one year. However he maintained that the Finance Ministry had to place limits to avoid abuse of the system.
With regard to the disability pension Davila admitted that the government had not had time to consider the idea but intended to do so in the coming new year.