Colombian President Juana Manuel Santos has been stirring things up a bit.
Colombia’s President Juan Manuel Santos called on the U.S. and Europe on Saturday to break the taboo and start a global debate on the legalization of drugs, reiterating his country would not oppose drug decriminalization.
Santos and Nicaraguan writer and former vice-President Sergio Ramirez discussed the possibility of legalizing drugs and the impact on Latin America, during a debate at the literature and arts Hay Festival in the coastal city of Cartagena.
“I know that this can’t be the opinion of a state or the president of the republic, but I am a normal citizen, so I can [say it]. The solution is decriminalizing drugs. It must be decriminalized,” Ramirez was quoted by Colombia’s presidential website.
“I am not against this,” Santos responded. “And I am saying this as president of the republic. This decision would be acceptable for Colombia if taken by the entire world.”
That’s right. A sitting president.
The U.S. has responded:
The United States â€œrespects,â€ but does not support Colombian President Santos’ call for a global debate on drug legalization, said U.S. Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman Tuesday.
Sherman, who is in Colombia to prepare U.S. President Barack Obamaâ€™s visit to the Summit of the Americas in April, told newspaper El Tiempo that she â€œappreciated that presidents say what they think and of course I respect their points of view.â€
OK. Polite, diplomatic. And the expected non-support for the idea.
However, â€œPresident Obama does not support legalization. What we do support is the intense work relation we have with Colombia and with President Santos with the aim of liberating us from this evil.â€
Whoa. Liberating us from this evil? Sounds like a phrase from the Lord’s Prayer.
You see, the problem is that once you identify something as “evil,” you’ve completely shut off any notion of having a rational discourse or of analyzing options.
And, by definition, drugs are not and cannot be “evil.” Drugs are inanimate objects, incapable of moral action.
With more and more foreign leaders and former leaders calling for real change, it won’t be long before the U.S. position of drug policy becomes the outlier, and it becomes harder and harder for the U.S. to impose their war on the rest of the world.