Globe, Latin America

Colombia does not and will not have a weak policy on drugs, says Colombian Ambassador

At an event organised by the LSE Colombian Society, the UK –based diplomat clears up some uncertainty about the subject.


Mauricio Rodríguez Múnera, the Colombian Ambassador to the UK, took part in the ‘Drug Policy Forum 2012’ on 26th April, organised by the London School of Economics Colombian Society. Also on the panel for the discussion ‘International Coordination: Dissimilar Challenges and Power Disparities’, was  Mexican Ambassador to the UK, Eduardo Medina Mora,  director of the Beckley Foundation, Amanda Feilding,  head of External Affairs at the Transform Drug Policy Foundation, Danny Kushlick and analyst at The International Institute for Strategic Studies, Virginia Comolli.

The event raised certain topics, such as the need to create a new global policy on drugs, since the current strategy has so far failed andthe negative effects of drug consumption have increased.

According to the panellists, now is a good moment for a new approach to regulation: to recognise that while there is demand for drugs, there will be supply.

Therefore, the fight against drugs has to be based on results rather than ideology because it’s not a battle between good and evil, but between bad and worse.

After the panel discussion, the Colombian Ambassador, Rodríguez Múnera, spoke for a few minutes with The Prisma:

Do these type of events really help the issue?

Certainly, they help a lot, as  it’s now necessary to have a debate at a high level with experts, with academics…who contribute to looking for a better model for facing the grave problems we have with drugs. I am convinced about the power of intelligent debate and I believe that universities contribute to that.

Latin America is undergoing a period of development and even so, countries such as Mexico or Colombia project a negative image to the rest of the world on the subject of drugs…

That’s how it is. Not just Colombia and Mexico: all the Latin American countries, many other developing counties and also the developed nations. We all have a problem: it’s the process of production, trafficking, consumption and money laundering.

So, you would say it’s a global problem?

Yes. A global problem that needs a global solution. This isn’t just an issue for couple of countries. It involves developing a solution to combat the crisis that’s facing the current course of action. Consumption is increasing, production is increasing, even though Colombia has made big advances in reducing its coca production by 62%. The problem is export to other countries. That’s why the President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, has picked a good moment to propose a new policy which is serious and without stereotyping, with help from scientists to find an alternative solution.

Speaking of President Santos: at the last Summit of the Americas, one of the themes that was discussed was the legalisation of drugs. Something that he seems to be in favour of…

No, no. This is a chance to clarify things. The President of Colombia is not in favour of any concrete position at the moment. Precisely because we don’t believe we’ve done thorough analysis on all the alternatives: the benefits, the costs, the risks…

When do think this analysis will happen?

President Santos wants to do it once and for all. For him at the moment, no concrete alternative has been proposed. What’s been suggested is this debate and we feel that having the information in our hands and discussing it, when we have all the studies that have been entrusted to the OAS (Organisation of American States), is the best course of action.

Is Colombia’s decision dependent on what the United States thinks is best?

No. We always make decisions based on what we think is not only best for the country, but best for the whole world. Colombia has never been, is not and never will be weak about this issue. And President Santos has demonstrated that through courageous leadership and thinking about the issue intelligently.

(Translated by Daniela Fetta)

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