US President Donald Trump on Monday praised Colombia’s new leader Ivan Duque for winning on an anti-drug platform and pledged to partner with his administration to “eradicate coca in his country.”
Speaking to the United Nations at the “Global Call to Action on the World Drug Problem” event, Trump said cocaine and opium production had hit record highs – and called on countries to work together to tackle the problem.
Last year Trump blasted Colombia as cocaine production hit record levels.
But during his address at the meeting of the UN, he promised to work with the South American country to “stop all forms of trafficking and smuggling that provide the financial lifeblood for vicious transnational cartels.”
“Today, we commit to fighting the drug epidemic together,” Trump said, decades after the two countries joined forces to combat drug trafficking between the world’s largest cocaine producer and the world’s largest consumption market.
Newly elected President Duque, Colombia, campaigned on an anti-drug platform, and won a very, very impressive victory. Congratulations.
US President Donald Trump
“We look forward to partnering with his new administration to eradicate coca production in his country. All of us must work together to dismantle drug production and defeat drug addiction,” said the controversial US president.
Trump added that “the call is simple: reduce drug demand; cut off the supply of illicit drugs; expand treatment; and strengthen international cooperation.”
Colombia is the world’s largest producer of cocaine. Most of the drug the country produces ends up in the US.
Coca, the base ingredient of the drug, has shot up – and is now more than 10 times the estimated production of 1993, the year in which drug lord Pablo Escobar was killed.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said that some 171,000 hectares or 660 square miles were used for coca cultivation last year.
President Duque of the hard-right Democratic Centre party has promised to tackle Colombia’s drug production problem aggressively, by destroying coca fields.
His scheme to use drones to spray coca crops with glyphosate has been criticized by the World Health Organization who say the herbicide is more than likely carcinogenic.