Source: AUN News
New York, Aug 09 (AUN News) – For the first time in its recent history, Colombia is governed by a left-wing party. Gustavo Petro’s election as president on August 8 represents a dramatic departure from the political status quo. He also poses a challenging challenge for American hegemony in Latin America.
Washington’s longest-standing friend in the area is Colombia, and in recent years, their partnership has been centered on fighting the country’s drug gangs. Colombia, however, continues to be the largest source of cocaine for the United States despite significant efforts to reduce the supply.
Current estimates from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC)
According to current estimates from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Colombia’s cocaine crop will reach a record level in 2020. Colombia’s potential output could reach 1,228 tonnes in 2020 because of new coca varieties (the main component of cocaine) and improved farming methods. This was three times as high as in 2010 and four times more than in the early 1990s when Pablo Escobar was most notorious.
Republican and Democratic administrations have given Colombia more than $13 billion in military and economic help since it began its divisive “war on drugs” in 1971. not much use.
Over 90% of the cocaine captured in the United States comes from Colombia, according to a study from the Drug Enforcement Agency of the United States dated 2021. The largest consumer market for cocaine from Colombia is still the United States.
Petro is one of those who have criticized the United States anti-drug policy as being ineffective. He has targeted aerial fumigation missions to eradicate coca fields, which we support.
He supports extending crop replacement initiatives that give rural farmers access to loans, training, and improved land rights. According to Petro, resolving Colombia’s violent drug trade is entwined with the long-standing imbalance in land ownership in the nation.
To carry out his domestic agenda, the Free-trade agreement (FTA)
He has also been a vocal opponent of Colombia’s free-trade agreement (FTA) with the United States, arguing that it forces farmers to grow coca and worsens the country’s dependency on fossil fuels and coffee exports.
Thousands of farmers in Colombia have been forced into the coca industry due to imports from America’s heavily subsidissubsidizedtural sector, which have displaced entire sectors of the country’s agricultural economy.
To defend Colombia’s rural farmers from American goods and, by implication, criminal activities, Petro called for “smart tariffs” during his election campaign. In May, he told the Financial Times, “The free trade agreement struck with the United States delivered rural Colombia to the drug traffickers.” Additionally, he added that “if we do not renegotiate the FTA, agricultural productivity cannot be enhanced.”
The incoming president of Colombia, a former member of the M-19 guerrilla group, has committed to addressing asymmetric economic ties in tandem with land reform and the drug trade. However, the military, which also fought Marxist guerrilla bands during Colombia’s 52-year civil war, is likely to oppose him vigorously.
In addition, the military has long played a part in the drug war that the United States leads. Petro, for his role, has been charged with corruption and violations of human rights by Colombia’s highest officials ever since the Government-Farc peace agreement in 2016.
The president must contend with a split congress and intense antagonism from landowner elites elsewhere. It will take deft maneuvering to unite a divided nation around its domestic objectives.
Additionally, Petro would still need to persuade the Biden administration to change its position on the United States’ commitment to free trade even if he can garner enough support nationally for his policy objectives.
What options does Petro have then?
He’ll probably start with a financial justification. Although cocaine overdoses result in far fewer fatalities than opiate overdoses, the economic costs of bringing cocaine into the United States are tremendous.
Without accounting for land border expenses, Navy and Coast Guard seizures alone will cost American taxpayers US$56 billion in 2020. Law enforcement, jail, and medical care related to cocaine usage are also paid for with state expenditures.
The current global environment can also provide Petro with an improbable Trump card. President Joe Biden will take care to avoid pressuring Colombia, which he has termed as a security “linchpin,” into a closer embrace with Cuba and Venezuela, which are diplomatically associated with the Kremlin, given his condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Biden would probably soften America’s attitude in renegotiating its FTA with Colombia, further isolating Russia.
Senior officials from the Biden administration met with Petro last month to discuss the FTA, among other topics. Although the U.S. has made cautious progress toward renegotiating the agreement, Petro should be suspicious of a positive outcome.
Around U.S.-Colombian counter-narcotics activities, a complex web of governmental and military bureaucracy has grown during the past 25 years. It will be challenging to untangle.
Analysis by: Advocacy Unified Network