Mar 14, 2012

Drug Policy Debate: Santos will Encourage Discussion on Drugs in the Summit of the Americas

El Milenio- After admitting that the fight against drug trafficking “is failing,” President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, host of the sixth Summit of the Americas, announced today that he will encourage a debate about illicit drugs in the upcoming continental forum April 14th and 15th.

According to the President’s comments, after looking at what has transpired over 40 years of combat against drug traffickers, Colombia has spilt the most blood. Santos declared that everyone must be willing to analyze all options to this problem during the meeting which will take place in the Colombian resort town of Cartagena.

“I am open to any option that might be better than what we have today and that the world stands beside. Colombia cannot even think about taking any unilateral actions,” said Santos, pointing out that for his country, the battle against drug trafficking is “an issue of national security.”

Colombia “can’t afford to lower its guard,” affirmed Santos in a television interview with “El Gran Reportaje (Grand Report).” “I believe that we have the moral authority, as a country, to open the discussion” in the upcoming Summit of the Americas where the 34 heads of state from each of the continent’s countries will meet.

After commenting that the war on drugs “is failing,” he referred to the United States’ opposition to the legalization of hallucinogenic drugs. “The United States says that legalization is worse. Well, let’s analyze whether it’s better or worse. For example, if the number of addicts rises, how much will it cost to treat those addicts compared to the cost of having a half-million, or who knows how many, people in prison for using or selling drugs,” he said.

“We cannot do anything if we don’t have concrete data and if we don’t analyze that data with experts,” Santos added while insisting in the necessity of “discussing the topic.” However, he warned that he would not be “the spokesperson for any cause” nor “the flag bearer of any initiative.”

“Simply put, along with many other countries, we are going to bring the conversation to the table. And we are going to participate very actively in the discussion—because, what’s more, we are one of the countries with the most experience in this area and with more moral authority on this issue,” Santos pointed out.

Colombia, which according to the UN is the main producer of cocaine in the world, waged an especially bloody war against the powerful drug cartels of Medellín and Cali in the 1980s. Spanish original

Translation: Mikael Rojas, Americas Program inter

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