During his speech at the United Nations General Assembly last week, Colombian President Gustavo Petro fulminated against Washington’s failed policies targeting drug trafficking, betraying something approaching schadenfreude at the current opioid crisis in the United States. “They wanted a war against the drugs of the rebellious youth that opposed the war in Vietnam,” Petro declared, “and they ended up taking their society to the drug of neoliberalism and incompetence.” Now, he added, the U.S. faces the scourge of fentanyl, the drug “of death.”
No one paying attention would disagree with the assessment that the “war on drugs” has failed miserably, a fact Petro noted in his inaugural address in August 2022 and again at last year’s U.N. General Assembly. But highlighting the failure of previous strategies to tackle drug trafficking does nothing to protect the embattled Petro from what has happened to Colombia’s cocaine trade since he took office.
Petro already has his hands full with a host of problems that have brought his approval ratings to dismal lows. The news from the drug front, where he promised a new approach and is now vowing to step up his efforts, will not help.