Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos discussed the “complex” nature of his country in an interview with British newspaper the Financial Times Friday.
“I’m not saying Colombia is a paradise, it’s a very complex situation,” Santos said in the interview with the UK newspaper.
In spite of concerted efforts to combat drug trafficking, Santos feels there remains more to be done.
“In Colombia, we have been quite successful at targeting the lower and middle parts of the drug chain. But there needs to be more application at the top: consumption has not fallen, and the drop in money laundering is negligible,” he said.
He feels recent successes fighting the illegal drug trade has pushed organized crime into other areas, like extortion and money laundering.
Santos also commented on his recent fall in approval ratings, in spite of economic gains that have attracted a rash of foreign investment– Colombia’s $370 billion economy is growing at a rate of 6% annually.
“My ratings could only go down. As Kennedy said: you need to have 30% against you to be a normal leader,” he said.
The born politician — the Santos family has been involved in Colombian politics for decades — sees many hurdles facing a country that is quickly becoming a major player on the international stage.
According to the Financial Times, Santos thinks Colombia’s complex tradition of over-reliance on legislation is “a frustration for every government.”
“We have to return to a principle we lost: good faith. We have been legislating assuming everyone is a crook. This turned the law into a real spider’s web,” the president said to Financial Times reporter John Paul Rathbone.
The leader responded to recent criticism regarding his plan to provide 100,000 houses to Colombia’s poorest families over the next two years, saying he believed in “principled pragmatism.”
“If helping the poor means being a populist or a traitor to my class, I am both,” said the head of state.