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    NewsLatin AmericaThe United States Tunes in to Petro's Approach to Drugs

    The United States Tunes in to Petro’s Approach to Drugs

    One of the men closest to President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, met this afternoon with Colombian President Gustavo Petro to discuss various issues such as irregular migration on the continent, or possible alliances in the fight against climate change. . But, although the high-level meeting was private, a subsequent press conference made it clear that the issue that was turning intensely on the debate table was really one: the approach to the war on drugs.

    Gustavo Petro spoke first, telling that —as he told Blinken after winning the elections, and as he repeated in his speech at the UN— it is necessary to turn the anti-drug policy of the United States, which has been a failure for producing and consuming countries, and it is necessary to give it “a more comprehensive vision”. By comprehensive Petro refers, for example, to the purchase of three million hectares of productive land, to deliver them to peasants who are currently cultivating coca.

    “It would be a barrier against the production of drugs in this country,” said Petro, who would like the support of the United States for said land purchase and for the comprehensive agrarian reform that he promised in the campaign. The United States —which supports the peace process in Colombia and knows that it includes a rural reform— did not commit to financing the huge purchase, but Blinken announced that they promised to be guarantors of the ethnic chapter of the agreement, which seeks reparation for the populations indigenous, black, raizales and palenqueras.

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    Petro’s proposal on the drug issue also implies changing the focus of criminal policy when drug trafficking is pursued. The Colombian president differentiated between the “drug trafficking proletariat”—which he described as people vulnerable to violence who are often forced to serve drug trafficking—and “drug trafficking capital,” who run the business. Petro would like to stop criminalizing the first group, and focus on the second, on people who “perhaps have been in these halls of the Narino palace,” he said, or who run an illegal structure from cities like Bogota, Miami and New York. Against them, the owners of capital, Petro asks the United States to strengthen the intelligence services of both countries.

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    Then it was Blinken’s turn. Although he is a high official of the country that promoted the war against drugs in the last 50 years, his answers were not far from Petro’s speech. Before a question from the newspaper Los Angeles Times, The Secretary of State said that Americans have been listening carefully to the proposals of the new Colombian president and added that in the United States “we strongly support the holistic approach that President Petro is adopting through justice, development, environmental protection, reduction of supply and demand. And on the possibility of persecuting, above all, those responsible for drug trafficking, he added that in the United States “we are in tune on this.”

    The point on which there is less harmony is on extradition. Petro mentioned how he is considering that armed organizations linked to drug trafficking submit to justice through what he has called Total Peace, and this would imply stopping his possible extradition to the United States if they comply with guarantees of non-repetition and with reparation measures to the victims. Only if they do not comply with these guarantees, they would be extradited to the United States, and Petro would commit to requesting the maximum penalties for them.

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    Faced with the issue of stopping the extradition of these drug traffickers who would submit to justice in Colombia, but not necessarily in the United States, Blinken was much more concise. “We are going to continue working on this point,” said the Secretary of State. Blinken celebrated the policies of the previous government for the protection of Venezuelan migrants, and the efforts to seek renewable energies that curb climate change. But in the face of that extradition letter, the United States is still not very flexible.

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    Source: EL PAIS


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