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US anti-drug policies caused ‘genocide’ in Latin America: Colombia president

Colombian President Gustavo Petro speaks at a meeting of regional leaders at the annual summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) on the Caribbean island of St Vincent and the Grenadines on March 1, 2024. (Photo by AFP)

Colombian President Gustavo Petro says the United States’ anti-drug policies have caused a “genocide” in Latin America.

“We have lived through a genocide of a million Latin Americans in the last half-century,” Petro declared on Friday at a meeting of regional leaders on the Caribbean island of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

The Colombian president said the US drug strategy was based on “repression” and not on “prevention and public health,” adding, “The result could not be more dramatic, more failed.”

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who was present at the meeting alongside other regional leaders such as Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro and Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, praised Latin American leaders.

The UN chief lauded the Latin American leaders for their continued pursuance of peace amid escalated international tensions. However, he also warned about the violent situation currently in Ecuador as it fights to rein in drug traffickers.

Guterres repeated his call for international aid to Haiti, the most impoverished nation in the Americas, as it combats a surge in conflict from armed gangs, which now control large swathes of the Caribbean country, threatening to oust Haitian Prime Minister Ariel Henry.

The Caribbean country has been plagued by widespread gang violence for about two years.

A report from the UN secretary-general’s office warned that violence by the gangs, who also control much of the capital Port-au-Prince, had become more intense and more brutal.

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