Colombia needs drug policy changes to end internal violence, truth commission says

Colombian leaders must recognize how the drug trade has permeated the country’s culture, economy and politics and how the global war on drugs is at the root of its internal armed conflict, Colombia’s truth commission said in a much-anticipated report on Tuesday.

The commission, established as part of a 2016 peace deal between the government and the now demobilized rebels of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), urged the country to reassess the role of drugs in the nearly 60-year-old internal conflict. to judge.

Among the committee’s recommendations are calls for substantial drug policy changes with a regulatory focus, as well as for leading a global conversation about policy changes.

Other recommendations included promoting peace talks with the National Liberation Army (ELN), tackling corruption and ensuring quality of life and dignity for all communities.

President-elect Gustavo Petro attended the presentation and pledged to implement the recommendations.

“These recommendations will be successful in Colombia’s history,” said Petro, a former member of the M-19 rebels, adding that the revenge cycles must end.

Some fights continue

According to the truth commission, 450,664 people died in the conflict from 1985 to 2018, while 55,770 were kidnapped between 1990 and 2018.

According to the commission, more than 7.7 million people were displaced between 1985 and 2019 and 121,768 people disappeared between 1985 and 2016.

Despite the peace deal, which ended the FARC’s role in the conflict, fighting continues in some parts of Colombia between leftist ELN rebels and FARC fighters rejecting the deal, as well as crime gangs and the military.

The commission was given three years to investigate the truth of what happened during the armed conflict and provide a broad explanation of how the atrocities took place.

The 1,000-page report included hours of testimony during private and public hearings, where both perpetrators and victims spoke in often emotional stories.

A law enforcement officer in a neon vest stands with a dog sniffing containers in an outdoor area.
A drug-sniffing dog checks barrels that authorities say contain cocaine dissolved in fertilizer and honey, in Cartagena, Colombia, on Feb. 4. (Luis Jaime Acosta/Reuters)

Drug trafficking and the war on drugs have contributed to the conflict’s degradation and expansion into a conflict of all-out war, the report said.

Colombia, a major cocaine exporter, joined the war on drugs in the 1980s under pressure from the United States and continues to face constant pressure from the US to eradicate coca, the main ingredient of cocaine, and trade, the report said.

Current President Ivan Duque, whose term officially ends in August, was not present.