Colombia Vice President Francisco Santos said Wednesday his country needs to continue waging the war on drugs if Colombia hopes to provide the security needed to attract foreign investment.
Santos, making a weeklong visit to the United States, reiterated his government’s position two days after three former Latin American presidents said the war on drugs had failed.
“For us the drug trafficking money is what finances criminal groups, the drug trafficking groups, corruption,” the vice president said after speaking with businessmen at the headquarters of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce.
“For us the only action we have is to maintain pressure against the drug traffickers and act against their crops, harvests, labs, goods and continue this frontal fight.”
In a Wall Street Journal opinion piece published Monday, former presidents Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brazil, Cesar Gaviria of Colombia, and Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico wrote that the war on drugs in Latin America did not work and suggested a radical reform focused on prevention and education.
“It’s high time to replace an ineffective strategy with more humane and efficient drug policies,” the former leaders wrote, affirming the conclusion of the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy report presented at a conference in Rio de Janeiro on Feb. 11.
“Prohibitionist policies based on eradication, interdiction and criminalization of consumption simply haven’t worked. Violence and the organized crime associated with the narcotics trade remain critical problems in our countries,” they wrote.
Santos said the war against drugs has helped to create security in Colombia, which has been hindered by conflicts with guerrilla groups, drug traffickers and paramilitaries.
“What we are doing in terms of security against the drug traffickers, the terrorist organizations, all the criminal organizations, is helping us to get the best indicators of security, which permits us to attract much more investments,” Santos said at the meeting, which was held to promote investment opportunities in his country.
Santos is making a seven-day official visit to the U.S. and has scheduled presentations in Chicago, New York and San Francisco.
The vice president plans to promote Colombia as an investment destination. He also wants to promote the country’s Shared Responsibility initiative, which aims to educate other countries about the environmental and social effects of Colombian drug production — which largely is fueled by other nation’s drug consumption.