In his inaugural speech, newly elected president of Columbia Gustavo Petro vowed to take his country in a new direction, preventing punitive drug policies that have increased death and violence all over Latin America.
His statements were viewed positively by some politicians in America, including Democratic representative Jim McGovern, who said he looked forward to working with Petro and thinking of new approaches to drug policy.
“Security is measured in lives, not deaths” – welcome words from newly inaugurated President @petrogustavo of #Colombia.
I look forward to working together to end hunger, consolidate peace, strengthen human rights and rule of law, rethink drug policy, and much more. https://t.co/aQkvoiljph
Petro is Colombia’s first left-wing president and used his inaugural address to lay out some of the most pressing issues his administration would be dealing with in the coming months.
When discussing drug policies, Petro decried Colombia’s previous efforts, claiming that they’ve only made it easier for international drug cartels to operate and thrive.
“For peace to be possible in Colombia, we need dialogue and understanding, to look for common paths and produce changes,” he said. “Peace is possible if you change, for example, the politics against drugs.”
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Petro said that a public health approach to drug use might foster better results, a school of thought and long-term strategies that have been echoed by a variety of experts all over the world.
Petro called out the US and other developed nations to change and evolve drug policies that foster prohibition, thus enabling conflicts in Latin America.
“It’s time for a new international convention that accepts that the war on drugs has failed,” he said. “Of course peace is possible. But it depends on current drug policies being substituted with strong measures that prevent consumption in developed societies.”
Rep. Jim McGovern shared his support on Twitter. “I look forward to working together to end hunger, consolidate peace, strengthen human rights and rule of law, rethink drug policy, and much more,” he wrote.
Petro is a polarizing figure in Colombia and was elected president this past June 19th. He is a former member of M-19, a Colombian guerrilla group, and beat out conservative parties by connecting with voters that are concerned and affected by rising poverty levels and violence.