‘The old way of doing things is the wrong way’.
Colombia’s president Juan Manuel Santos has said it is ‘insane’ to keep approaching the global narcotics problem with the same failed policies of the past and called on drug war hawks to understand that “the old way of doing things is the wrong way”.
Speaking after a United Nations policy summit voted to maintain its support for prohibitionist drug policies Santos told the Guardian: ‘Let me be clear with them: the prohibitionist approach has been a failure’.
‘It’s time to leave ideologies behind and embrace the evidence. And the evidence points to the need for new policies’ he said in an interview.
‘If something is not working for more than 40 years logic and common sense tell you that it must be changed.’
Speaking ahead of his address on Thursday to the special session on the UN general assembly Santos said that the ‘outcome document’ adopted on Tuesday was a far cry from the progressive agenda that had spurred Colombia Mexico and Guatemala to press for the world meeting.
As the world’s largest single supplier of cocaine Colombia has spent decades fighting powerful drug cartels that nearly brought the nation to its knees and attempting to stop farmers producing coca leaf which provides the raw material for the drug trade.
Mexico has also been devastated by drug war violence while Guatemala has also seen its institutions undermined by mafia-fuelled corruption.
And despite millions of dollars spent on military and judicial efforts to crack down on narcotics the business continues to thrive.
‘It’s insane to continue down the same path expecting a different result’ Santos said.