View Full Version : Nobel Peace Prize: Santos calls for 'rethink' of war on drugs

10 Dec 16,, 16:08
The President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, has used his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech to call for the world to "rethink" the war on drugs.

He said the zero-tolerance policy might be "even more harmful" than all the other wars being fought worldwide.

Mr Santos' government and the country's biggest rebel group, the Farc, signed a peace deal last month.

The conflict it ends has killed more than 260,000 people and left millions internally displaced.

Accepting the prize for his efforts in the peace process, Mr Santos paid tribute to the families of victims of the conflict.

He said the "great paradox" of peacemaking was that "the victims are the ones who are most willing to forgive, to reconcile and to face the future with a heart free of hate", even while "many who have not suffered the conflict in their own flesh are reluctant to accept peace".

In a deviation from his prepared remarks, he asked the representatives of the victims present to stand and be recognised for their own efforts in the peace process, to much applause.

"I have served as a leader in times of war - to defend the freedom and the rights of the Colombian people - and I have served as a leader in times of making peace," he said. "Allow me to tell you, from my own experience, that it is much harder to make peace than to wage war."

No war on drugs

Mr Santos said it was "time to change our strategy" on drugs, and that Colombia had "paid the highest cost in deaths and sacrifices" in the so-called war on drugs.

The term, coined by US President Richard Nixon more than four decades ago, refers to US-led efforts to stop drug production at its source. In Latin America this has included on-the-ground policing, and fumigation of coca fields from the air.

"We have moral authority to state that, after decades of fighting against drug trafficking, the world has still been unable to control this scourge that fuels violence and corruption throughout our global community," he said.

"It makes no sense to imprison a peasant who grows marijuana, when nowadays, for example, its cultivation and use are legal in eight states of the United States.

"The manner in which this war against drugs is being waged is equally or perhaps even more harmful than all the wars the world is fighting today, combined."

The Colombian government's peace deal with the Farc was struck after many years of negotiations.

It struck a surprise hurdle in October this year when 50.2% of voters rejected it in a referendum.

But working alongside the no campaigners, the government wrote a new deal, which was signed last month.

Berit Reiss-Andersen, a member of the award committee, said the Nobel Peace Prize 2016 was "also intended as a tribute to the Colombian peace" who had "never given up hope of a just peace", and the negotiators and Farc guerrilla leaders also deserved "thanks and tribute".

There were many armed groups involved in decades of conflict in Colombia, including left-wing rebel groups and right-wing paramilitaries. In October the government announced it would start peace talks with the second-largest rebel group, the ELN.


11 Dec 16,, 00:07
The President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, has used his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech to call for the world to "rethink" the war on drugs...

Those are important cash crops for Columbia. Does his power base make more money from those foreign entities supporting continued destruction of a fraction of those cash crops, or from those profiting from the fruits of the harvest, or maybe something from both?

11 Dec 16,, 11:45
It's actually becoming more and more common for political leaders to voice these opinions, often they are retired.