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Former Colombian President Ivan Duque warned that his successor’s calls to change the course of the war on drugs would turn Colombia into a “narco-state” that could threaten the security of the United States and other countries “in the hemisphere.”
“Now, what concerns me is that now there is an opportunity to get into the permit or that legalization of cocaine and consumption,” Duque, who had been in New York to attend the Concordia summit, told Fox News Digital. “I think it will be very bad for Colombia and it will be very bad for the countries of the hemisphere, and I think it could also generate a major security threat to the United States.”
Duque, who left office in August, continued: “So I am in no way in favor of the legalization of the cocaine trade … But I must also say this, Colombia cannot become a drug state. I think that the world now have united in the concept of prohibition, and I think that if just one country, let’s say Colombia, decides to legalize cocaine, it will turn itself into a narco-state.”
In contrast, Duque cited his administration’s “holistic approach” to the challenges of illegal drugs, from record drug seizures to extradition to health policies to treat addicts. He further called for more to be done to curb demand “in countries where consumption of the game has increased.”
A bill introduced by the current administration of President Gustavo Petro legalizing recreational marijuana reflects an effort to move away from what he has called the “irrational war on drugs.” Petro, Colombia’s first left-wing president and a former guerrilla leader, called during his inauguration speech for a “new international convention” and claimed that “the war on drugs has failed”.
According to an estimate by the Office of National Drug Control Policy, in 2020 Colombia was the world’s leading producer of cocaine, growing more than the two nearest nations, Peru and Bolivia, combined.
During his address to the United Nations General Assembly, Petro again stated “The war on drugs has failed.”
“Which is more poisonous to mankind, cocaine, coal or oil?” Peter said. “The opinion of power has decreed that cocaine is poison and must be prosecuted while it causes only minimal overdose deaths … but instead coal and oil must be protected even when it could wipe out all of humanity.”
President Duque also spoke about border security and the crisis at the US southern border. He said one way to help solve that would be to bring greater investment to America. “Bringing these investments here will create jobs, will create opportunity, will create aggregate value chains, and I think that can deter pressure on America’s southern border.”
He noted that focusing on climate change as a major issue means Colombia must adapt or suffer in the long term. He explained that 40% of Colombia’s exports come from oil and gas, and a large part of the national surplus comes from taxation and foreign investment in that sector.
He insisted that Colombia may be a leader in pursuing alternative fuels, but that the issue “is not a matter of black and white.”
“There is a transition going on and Colombia can turn itself in the next decade into an exporter of green hydrogen, but for now we have to keep the balance of doing a good job when it comes to oil and gas in terms of exports on production “, argued Duque. “At the same time, we need to continue to expand with non-conventional renewable energy.”
“I think we need to continue to be leaders in the energy transition with non-conventional renewable energy, but we need to keep … the conventional energy it’s a source of funding for the social programs we have in Colombia,” he said.
Oil also gives Venezuela power and wealth, which it uses to build ties with nations like Russia and Iran. Duque warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin sees Venezuela as a “mechanism to destabilize the Western Hemisphere,” with Putin saying he also sees Colombia as “a future strategic partner.”
“I condemned it when I was president. And we also expelled spies, Russian spies from the Colombian territory, and I think we must continue to demonstrate [to] the world of the interest that Russia has in Venezuela,” Duque said.
“I think at this point all the countries in the Western Hemisphere need it rejects Vladimir Putin’s intention to bring to the Western Hemisphere a capacity to destabilize,” he continued. “We’ve seen how they’ve tried to get involved in elections and destabilize elections and influence elections by manipulation of algorithms with local media and also by espionage.”
“So I’ve been clear, and I can say it again, that Russia’s intention to use Venezuela as the … entry point to try to destabilize the region must be condemned very clearly, and [Putin] must also receive a message that he cannot mess with the Western democracies.” Duque also called for Putin to be “prosecuted by the International Criminal Court” for his actions involving Ukraine.
Former President Duque also discussed new projects that he is overseeing since leaving office. One such project, he said, was to help revive the Amazon in a project known as the Amazon Initiative, which is a way to revive and sustain the area.
During the interview, Duque also discussed the influence China plays on the continent, the attraction of leftism in Latin America, pro-market economic reforms, the war in Ukraine and the National Liberation Army, a designated foreign terrorist organization by the US State Department. .
EDITOR’S NOTE: This report has been updated to clarify Colombian lawmakers’ approach to the country’s drug policies.
Fox News’ Andrew Murray contributed to this report.