Pubdate: Sun, 17 Apr 2016
Source: Observer, The (UK)
Copyright: 2016 Guardian News and Media Limited


Colombia's president, Juan Manuel Santos, arrives in New York this 
week with a clear message to the UN general assembly special session 
on drugs: the failure of the "war on drugs" to deal with the human 
cost of narco traffic and drug abuse. Santos's message will be: the 
whole policy needs to be rethought, with a different set of priorities.

President Santos first called for an overhaul in policy towards drugs 
in an interview with this newspaper in 2011, urging that "a new 
approach should try and take away the violent profit that comes with 
drug trafficking". He has continued to drive that conversation 
forward with the moral authority bestowed by leading a country that 
was nearly destroyed by the violence and corrupting influence of 
cartel money on the police, judiciary and the body politic. It was 
close to a failed state in the late 90s and it was drugs that did that damage.

Now Santos is at it again, presenting the UN with a four-point plan - 
previewed exclusively in the Observer today - to challenge the drugs 
crisis. And he does so in a unique context: for four years in Havana, 
Santos's government has been locked in peace talks with Farc, which 
mainly funds itself through narco-traffic. Under the peace accord 
soon to be signed, Farc is poised to become an ally of the government 
in trying to eradicate coca production in favour of other 
agricultural activity.

Colombia's attempt to change the conversation on the drugs war has 
been forcefully supported by Guatemala, Ecuador and Bolivia. And drug 
policy has become a live issue in countries such as Portugal, the 
Czech Republic, Ireland and Brazil.

The governments of two nations have been noticeable by their 
reluctance to engage in Colombia's initiatives: the US and UK, among 
the countries that consume the most hard drugs per capita in the 
world, and where the banks are based that have been caught and 
admitted laundering the bloody profits of narco traffic with 
effective impunity (Wachovia and HSBC). This is a disgrace.
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