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The president of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, said Wednesday that he proposed the Biden Administration change the drug policy so that traffickers who cooperate with the state and do not re-offend will not be extradited to the U.S., even if they are wanted on drug trafficking charges.
This was said by the head of state during a joint statement with the Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who is visiting Colombia.
“With the U.S. government yesterday, we said that among four points we proposed to change drug policies, the first point has to do with extradition,” Petro revealed.
The president assured that they proposed to the US delegation that “drug traffickers who do not negotiate with the State, will be extradited; drug traffickers who negotiate with the State and re-offend, will be extradited without any type of negotiation with the United States.”
“A drug trafficker who negotiates legal benefits with the Colombian state and ceases to be a drug trafficker will not be extradited,” he added.
A U.S. delegation, led by the director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, Rahul Gupta, visited Colombia and had meetings with Petro and several ministers on issues such as climate change, rural development, and the drug problem, which are key points of the new bilateral agenda.
The Colombian president did not want to reveal the rest of the points proposed to them, but stressed that they will continue talks in the U.S. to reform drug policy.
Petro negotiates with drug traffickers
Petro has begun a policy of “total peace” that goes from resuming negotiations with the terrorist guerrilla of the National Liberation Army (ELN) to dialogues with other groups, but that also implies other types of actions.
“We have given orders to put an end to a policy that seems to me absolutely negative in relation to drugs, which is to fumigate peasants, to impose on peasants, to forcibly eradicate crops,” he said during the hearing, justifying his decision to end fumigation to stop drug production.
The Colombian president also wants to “revive the National Integral Program for the Substitution of Illicit Crops (PNIS)” to, according to him, intensify the dialogue “between the State and the coca leaf producing peasants of Colombia, who are the most geographically marginalized in the country.”
In this way, “to build crop substitution alternatives that include land substitution, which offers agro-industrialization processes for new crops.”
Extradition in Colombia
To stop the advance of drugs, the two countries signed an Extradition Treaty in 1979 under the governments of Julio César Turbay and Jimmy Carter, which Colombia began to apply in 1987 during the presidency of Virgilio Barco (1986-1990).
In response, drug kingpins created the group Los Extraditables, which included Pablo Escobar and six other members of the Medellín Cartel and whose motto was “we prefer a grave in Colombia to a prison in the United States.”
The first capo extradited was Carlos Lehder Rivas, in February 1987, and since then more than a thousand Colombians have been handed over to the U.S. justice system for drug trafficking and related crimes.