December 5, 2022

What we know about Petro’s proposal to stop the extradition of drug traffickers to the US

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(CNN Spanish) — Colombia would stop extraditing drug traffickers to the United States who negotiate with the State and do not reoffend, in exchange for legal benefits, a proposal made by President Gustavo Petro to the US government, the president reported Wednesday.

President Petro’s proposal comes shortly after a meeting with representatives of the United States government in which other points were discussed that the president did not reveal.

This is what is known about Petro’s proposal for extradition to the US.

What did Petro say about the extradition of drug traffickers to the United States?

President Gustav Petro said this wednesday who proposed to the United States government to change the policy of extradition of drug traffickers, opening a door to negotiations with the State in Colombia, and legal benefits for those who do not reoffend. For those who do not take advantage of this plan or negotiate, but reoffend, extradition would be imminent and without legal privileges.

“A drug trafficker who does not negotiate with the State will be extradited; a drug trafficker who negotiates with the State and reoffends will be extradited without any type of negotiation in the United States. And a drug trafficker who negotiates with the Colombian State (will have) legal benefits, and definitely stop being a drug trafficker, he is not extradited,” Petro said.

The president explained that he proposed to the United States four changes in the treatment of drug trafficker extradition cases, but that for now he would not mention the other points. “That’s where we started, now the talks with the government in Washington will continue.”

Extradition

Alexander Montoya Usuga, alleged member of the Clan del Golfo drug gang, is escorted by police and Interpol agents before his extradition to the US, on January 19, 2021. (Credit: RAUL ARBOLEDA/AFP via Getty Images )

What does the United States say about this proposal?

The director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), Rahul Gupta, said Tuesday after a meeting with Petro that the anti-drug policy of the Government of President Joe Biden is holistic and of shared responsibility, including issues of public health, development, environment, state services and security.

“President Biden is aware that many of the policies of the past have marginalized some people and have not worked for many populations and we can do better,” Gupta said on Tuesday in a joint statement with the designated Colombian ambassador to the United States, Luis Gilberto Murillo.

“The Biden administration is in a new era on drug policy that is holistic, science-based, and compassionate and focused, people-centered,” he added.

Gupta said that Colombia should see the United States as an ally when it comes to promoting development and security for “marginalized” communities in Colombia.

“We look forward to continuing to cooperate on counternarcotics and security issues as we work to align our priorities and common interests,” Gupta added.

“Today’s discussions symbolize the importance of this work as a shared responsibility and that is why President Biden is taking strong action to reduce drug use and the harm it causes,” Gupta pointed out.

Vehicles of Petro’s presidential outpost are shot at 0:50

In what context does this proposal come?

Petro and several members of his cabinet met Tuesday with a US delegation, led by Gupta, the head of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Petro said that the proposal for a change in the anti-drug policy to the United States includes three other points, in addition to extradition, which he did not reveal during the press conference with the president of the Spanish government, Pedro Sánchez, this Wednesday at the Casa de Nariño .

Although the president did not detail the legal benefits, government sources told Reuters that they contemplate reduced sentences. CNN has not been able to independently confirm this information.

Petro, who took office on August 7 as president of Colombia, the first from the left in the country, has repeatedly proposed a change in the strategy of the fight against drugs, as well as a policy to achieve peace in a country whose history is marked by a violent conflict that has left at least 450,000 dead between 1985 and 2018 alone.

“It’s time to accept that the war on drugs has been a complete failure,” Petro said during his inauguration ceremony earlier this month, commenting on a bill his government recently submitted to Congress to legalize drugs. recreational marijuana.

The paradigm shift in the fight against drug trafficking that Petro proposes seeks to face the challenges that Colombia has to put an end to this scourge in which a variety of criminal actors—from former leftist guerrillas to paramilitaries and criminal gangs—fight for control of drug trafficking. territories.

Drug trafficking is a powerful source of income for these criminals, and for the last 50 years authorities have pushed a prohibitionist agenda, restricting the trade and consumption of drugs to hit criminals in their pockets. But the flow of illegal drugs never stopped.

An image of a Colombian map is displayed on a screen as DEA Administrator Anne Milgram speaks during a press conference on the extradition of Colombian drug lord Dairo Antonio Usuga, alias Otoniel, in New York City on May 5. 2022. (Credit: KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images)

What is the status of extradition from Colombia to the United States?

Extradition in Colombia was abolished in 1991 in an assembly that reformed the Constitution amid a campaign of threats, assassinations and bomb attacks by drug traffickers. However, it was restored in 1997 with a reform approved by Congress.

How is Colombia doing in the fight against drugs?

Colombia, considered the world’s leading producer of cocaine, has faced pressure from the United States in recent years to reduce coca cultivation and cocaine production.

Between 2019 and 2020, the area planted with coca in Colombia was reduced by 7%, according to a report of the Integrated Illicit Crop Monitoring System (SIMCI) of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

Although the country went from 154,000 hectares planted with coca leaves in 2019 to 143,000 in 2020 in that period, “the capacity to obtain cocaine per hectare has increased in recent years despite the reduction in the area planted,” he says. the report.

Police officers walk between packages of cocaine seized in the port of Buenaventura, in the Pacific, Colombia.

The proposal to legalize drugs in Colombia

Petro, a 62-year-old economist who recently took office, has reiterated that the fight against drug trafficking “has been a complete failure.”

Petro recently opened up the possibility of legalizing marijuana and opening its cultivation to peasants in Colombia.

Colombia’s law already allows the production of cannabis for medical purposes, mainly for export to foreign markets such as the United States and Canada, but supporters of the new legislation believe that only the legalization of recreational cannabis can keep thousands of farmers away from drug trafficking and take them to the market and legal trade.

A landmark report by the Truth Commission, an interdisciplinary panel tasked with investigating more than 50 years of civil conflict in Colombia, found that drug trafficking helped prolong the conflict despite nearly $8 billion in US military aid. . to Colombia. At least 260,000 Colombians, the vast majority civilians, were killed in the violence.

To this day, the Colombian state faces challenges for control of its territory from a variety of criminal actors, from former leftist guerrillas and paramilitaries to drug cartels and organized crime syndicates. Drug trafficking is a powerful source of income for these criminals, and for the last 50 years public authorities have pushed a prohibitionist agenda, restricting the trade and consumption of drugs to hit criminals in their pockets. But the flow of illegal drugs never stopped.

Calculating numbers in an illegal market is never an exact science A 2016 study by the Colombian government estimated that drug trafficking, the flow of illegal drugs, primarily cocaine, that is produced in Colombia and sold in international markets from Europe to North America, through Asia, was worth up to 3.8% of Colombian GDP at the time.

By comparison, the consumption of illegal drugs –those that are consumed illegally in Colombia and where marijuana plays a larger role– was worth 0.75% of Colombian GDP.

— With information from Abel Alvarado of CNN en Español; Estefano Pozzebon of CNN and Reuters.





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