President Gustavo Petro says that coca farmers are being "demonized"
Colombia's recently elected president Gustavo Petro has told the UN General Assembly that bloody campaigns against cocaine production have failed and are only hurting his country.
"From my wounded Latin America, I demand you end the irrational war on drugs," Petro stated in his address in New York on Tuesday.
"Reducing drug consumption doesn't require wars. It requires us to build a better society, a more caring, more affectionate one." He added that "demonized" farmers resort to growing coca "because they have nothing else to grow."
The world's largest producer of cocaine, Colombia is often pressured by the US to step up raids against coca farmers and drug cartels.
Petro, who assumed office last month as the country's first leftist leader, vowed to rethink the protracted and bloody drug war in the Colombian rainforest and jungle. Speaking at the UN, the president accused the international community of being "hypocritical" in terms of fighting drug trafficking and addressing climate change.
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"The forest that should be saved is at the same time being destroyed. To destroy the coca plant, they throw poisons such as glyphosate that drips into our waters, they arrest their cultivators and then imprison them," Petro said.
The Colombian government previously announced plans to overhaul drug policies, but rejected reports that it wanted to decriminalize the use of cocaine.
The US is "not a supporter of decriminalization," Jonathan Finer, the White House deputy national security adviser, told The Washington Post last month.