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Monday, October 3, 2022

Colombia will seek to "open doors" to amplify the voice of the vulnerable: CESJUL

Peninsula 360 Press
Photography: Alex Sierra

After Gustavo Petro was sworn in as president of Colombia this Sunday, it is expected that his government will "open doors" to create an international debate between social organizations and the people, with the purpose of amplifying the voices of the most vulnerable and that this will lead to important achievements in Human Rights and new policies for the fight against drugs.

Colombia will seek to "open doors" to amplify the voices of the most vulnerable: CESJUL
Photo: Alex Sierra

This was stated by Ruben Dario Acosta, director of the Center for Latin American Socio-Legal Studies CESJUL during the Peninsula 360 Radio program, broadcast by KIQI radio station on 1010 AM from San Francisco, California, in collaboration with the program Hecho en California, hosted by Marcos GutiƩrrez and Manuel Ortiz, who pointed out that the fight against drugs has been a worldwide failure.

"The doors are open for a greater discussion, an international debate that is not going to be one between leaders, but open to social organizations. We can to some extent amplify those voices so that they are heard and we can have important and significant logos in the protection of life and not regressive policies that unfortunately have been the characteristics of these struggles against drugs in the world that leave more and more victims," Acosta said.

"The drug business, curiously, continues to grow and the number of victims continues to grow, so the fight against drugs is a global failure, at least from the point of view that is still maintained," he added.

In view of this and other issues, he said, there is an imperative need to integrate Latin America, and it is this new government in Colombia that could bring that unity.

Photo: Alex Sierra

"I think we can strengthen the work of organizations both in Colombia and in North America and especially those that have fought on issues against racism, xenophobia and against drug policy."

The Colombian people are currently experiencing enormous expectations in anticipation of a change that will come with Petro. "It is a very emotional situation, very hopeful".

Petro, after his inauguration, had the sword of Simon Bolivar carried before him, an act that the outgoing president did not want to endorse minutes before. 

This action earned the now president of Colombia a standing ovation and applause from his followers, as he said, "this sword will not be sheathed again until the people have justice".

Photo: Alex Sierra

"This particular event reminds us of what we have been doing in the last decades, of a united Latin America, a Bolivarian Latin America, which to a certain extent can come together again.

"It is a historical fact to bring the sword of Bolivar? it was a demonstration that precisely filled with enthusiasm and emotion the people who had seen this type of symbolism "demonized", let's say, they had seen them as subversive, as terrorism, so it was really a very hopeful act, a speech of President Petro very well worked and structured, with clear messages".

Among those messages, Acosta said, was a very clear one to the U.S. government, but also to those who are part of the United Nations and who approach the fight against drugs in a superficial manner.

"No more hypocrisy in the fight against drugs, if you want to support us to build peace, you have to change that hypocrisy of saying that there is a fight against drugs, when the truth is that drug trafficking is increasingly powerful and permeates more of the world's states."

"We are in a moment that is full of hope and excitement, but we also have to start working now, we have to show that the change is real and that it is not more of the same, and this is the historic task that the government, the organizations and all the people who have been fighting for this change to happen.

Photo: Alex Sierra

Acosta reflected that young people have been a key point in the change of government, because despite the attacks, imprisonment and assassinations they have suffered for demonstrating against previous governments, they have not let go of their struggle. 

"The pandemic accelerated a social and humanitarian crisis that exploded with acts of police brutality that obviously the young people said: they are starving us to death and now they are going to kill us for going out to protest because we have nothing to eat. Undoubtedly this generated a great movement in support of the youth, even many older people, many people who had never gone out to protest did so".

In turn, the expert recalled that, on Sunday, Petro named a decalogue of what will be his mandate, where the initial point is peace, "the fulfillment of the peace agreements and the strict application of the recommendations of the Truth Commission". 

In this sense, he pointed out that the reconciliation of the country is sought, where the victims are the center and not the perpetrators, as in previous years. "A peace process that includes historical demands of social movements, peasant and indigenous organizations, Afro-descendants and others".

On the other hand, he said, there is a clear message that the military intelligence that has been used to intimidate and persecute the opposition, judges, journalists and politicians who did not agree with the government, will be directed to end corruption.

"What is being said is that the center of the peace agreement is going to be the victims, dispossessed communities, and those who have been victimizers will be made to pay, to return the wealth, we are not going to allow all those acts of corruption they committed to go unpunished."

He stressed that while it is true that the Attorney General's Office remains in the hands of Uribismo, Petro has made respectful calls for it to review the cases of imprisoned youths and to reconsider the criminal treatment being given to social protest.

Photo: Alex Sierra

"We will have to wait if in the next months this prosecutor that Colombia currently has, takes a step aside or if on the contrary he is going to stay there, which is part of the strategy that Uribism left to guarantee impunity, so that at least in the remaining period they do not open files against all these types of subjects who attempted against the lives of young people, who assassinated them, who have been attempting against the lives of defenders and social leaders, of reincorporated people who were members of the FARC guerrillas and who have been systematically assassinated".

Finally, he emphasized that there is an important mandate from the President in police matters, since the police will no longer be a body attached to the Ministry of Defense but to the Ministry of the Interior, which will provide it with "a civic body for coexistence, for peace and not a body of repression".

Listen to the interview on Spotify:

You may be interested in: Portraits of resistance and life in the rural Caribbean region of Colombia

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