By Opposing U.S. on Drugs, President Santos Shows
"President Santos, albeit tentatively and with
verbal precautions, has dared to launch a debate on the issue. This is
even more surprising given that among world leaders in all other respects he is the most submissive servant of the United States … But he has nevertheless
dared utter the taboo word 'legalization,' which is something that even the
most direct adversaries of the U.S. government have failed to do."
Santos, current president of the world's leading exporter of cocaine, is raising the issue of drug legalization - and in the process is challenging one of his greatest benefactors, the United States.
Santos is the first incumbent head of state - up to now the only one - who has
dared propose the legalization of drugs prohibited by the United States government.
He didn't actually propose it; he says that if he did so, he would be crucified.
But at least he has raised the possibility. And he has done it repeatedly in
press interviews and at universities.
didn’t try it last September when he might have with much more
resonance at the forum of the U.N. General Assembly in New York [watch below]. There he merely
insinuated, in a rather confusing fashion, that the growing de facto legalization in many U.S.
states via medical use (beginning with California) and decriminalization in
some European Union nations (Portugal and The Netherlands) are hypocritical
measures that put the full weight of the drug war on the shoulders of producing
countries that destroy themselves in the process. Now with his visit to
London, the president has been more direct, declaring
to The Observer and The Guardian that, “If that [taking the
profit out of illegal drugs] means legalizing, and the world thinks that's the
solution, I will welcome it. I'm not against it.”
many proponents of legalization. I've been advocating it for 30 years. It's
obvious that legalization is the only recipe for limiting the damage that drugs cause to public health and that logically-follow prohibition, the most serious being
the increasing power of the cartels. There have been many of us,
but we lacked influence: academics, doctors, economists and journalists. Or
there were people with weight but no guts: former Latin American presidents and
one-time senior international officials who never dared say a peep when they
had the power to do something, but in retirement have come to discover that they
made a mistake.
pathetic is the case of Ernesto
Samper, who now says he realizes that the war on drugs is counterproductive
and only serves as a justification for those who wage it. But when he was
Colombian president (a position he attained thanks to prohibition being such a
good business that it allowed the drug cartels to finance presidential
campaigns under the table), he very seriously asserted that the drug war was the
fruit of "his conviction, not coercion” exercised over him by the United
States. Samper has no fear that the U.S. might bomb Bogota, as it did with
Panama a few years earlier; he was terrified of losing his U.S. visa.
And among those
with weight but without guts we must also include the president of the United
States, Barack Obama. As a presidential candidate, he considered banning drugs to be harmful. But
since becoming president, he hasn't said a word. (As is the case in so many
other areas: wars in the Middle East, health care reform, the closing of
Santos, albeit tentatively and with verbal precautions, has dared to
launch a debate on the issue. And this is even more surprising given that among world leaders in all other respects
he is the most submissive servant of the United States: military
bases, the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, the Free Trade Agreement.
But he has nevertheless dared utter the taboo word "legalization,"
which is something that even the most direct adversaries of the U.S. government
have failed to do. Not the ayatollahs of Iran, where drug trafficking is
punishable by hanging, nor the Chinese, who prefer the firing squad, nor the
president of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, who expelled the U.S. Drug Enforcement
Administration but insists on carrying on the drug war.
Posted by WORLDMEETS.US
Santos is the only incumbent head of state to challenge the United States - at
least verbally - on the subject of the war in drugs. This shows him to have,
apart from guts, a unique kind of authority. Because the only area in which
Colombia is a world power is not morality, as has been said for many years and
against all evidence; it is in the production and trafficking of illegal drugs.
Not that Santos has as a consequence any “moral authority” to opine on the
subject, as he has asserted. Perhaps he has less moral authority than the
others, coming as he does from narcocracy. But he certainly has more experience
than anyone else.
And so, applause
for Santos. And let us hope he doesn't back down on that as well.
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