Guastavo Petro, Colombia's new president and former M-19 guerrilla has announced his government's 10-point plan to tackle inequality.
Petro also noted that the decades-long war on drugs had failed and called for developed nations to change their drug policies which often filed violent conflicts across Colombia and Latin America.
"It is time for a new international convention that accepts that the war on drugs has failed—and failed resoundingly. That it has led to the murder of a million Latin Americans—the majority of them Colombian — over the past 40 years, and that it causes 70,000 Americans to die of drug overdoses every year; that the war on drugs has strengthened the mafias and weakened our governments.
The war on drugs has led states to commit crimes—our State has committed crimes—and it has blurred the horizon of democracy. Are we going to wait for another million Latin Americans to be murdered and 200,000 overdose deaths in the United States each year? Are we going to wait for another 40 years and for another million Latin Americans to die of homicide and 2,800,000 North Americans to die of an overdose? Or rather, do we exchange failure for success that will allow Colombia and Latin America to live in peace?
The time has come to change the anti-drug policy in the world, so that it guarantees life and does not generate death. They keep telling us that they want to support us in peace—they tell us again and again in all their speeches. So they must change the anti-drug policy that is in their hands—in world powers, in the United Nations. They have the power to do it."
Petro, 62, has described US-led anti-narcotics policies as a failure but has also said he would like to work with Washington “as equals,” building schemes to combat climate change or bring infrastructure to rural areas where many farmers say coca leaves are the only viable crop.
Petro also formed alliances with environmentalists during his presidential campaign and has promised to turn Colombia into a “global powerhouse for life” by slowing deforestation and reducing the country’s reliance on fossil fuels. He has pledged that Colombia will stop granting new licenses for oil exploration and will ban fracking operations.
During his inaugural address the former rebel detailed his 10-point plan to address inequalities within Colombia. His election becomes the first time a left-leaning president has held power in Colombia.
- I will work to achieve true and definitive peace: like no one else, like never before. We will comply with the Peace Agreement and follow the recommendations of the report of the Truth Commission. The "Government of Life" is the "Government of Peace". Peace is the meaning of my life, it is the hope of Colombia. We cannot fail Colombian society. The dead deserve it. The living need it. Life must be the basis of peace. A just and safe life. A life to live 'sabroso', to live happily, so that happiness and progress are our identity.
- I will care for our grandfathers and grandmothers, for our children, for people with disabilities, for people whom history or society has marginalised. We will make a "policy of care" so that no one is left behind. We are a caring society that cares and cares for others. May your government do the same. We will make a policy sensitive to the suffering and pain of others, with tools and solutions to create equality.
- I will govern with and for the women of Colombia. Today, here, we begin a government with gender parity with a Ministry of Equality. Finally! With our Vice President and Minister Francia Márquez, we are going to work so that gender does not determine how much you earn or how you live. We want real equality and security so that Colombian women can walk peacefully and not fear for their lives.
- I will dialogue with everyone, without exceptions or exclusions. This will be an open-door government for anyone who wants to discuss Colombia's problems. Whatever their name is, wherever they come from. The important thing is not where we come from, but where we are going. We are united by our desire for the future, not by the weight of the past. We are going to build a Great National Accord to set the roadmap for Colombia in the coming years. Dialogue will be my method, agreements my goal.
- I will listen to Colombians, as I have done for years. We do not govern from a distance, far from the people and disconnected from their realities. On the contrary, we govern by listening. We are going to design mechanisms and dynamics so that all Colombians feel heard in this Government. I will not be trapped in the curtains of bureaucracy. I will be close to the problems. I will walk alongside and together with Colombians from all corners of the country. Only those who are present can understand and put themselves in the place of the other.
- I will defend Colombians from violence and I will work so that families feel safe and at ease. We will do so with a comprehensive security strategy. Colombia needs a strategy that goes from prevention programs to the prosecution of criminal structures and the modernization of the security forces. Lives saved will be our main indicator of success. Security is measured in lives, not in deaths. When security is measured in deaths, that leads the State to commit crime. And this state will not stand for heinous crime. This state is a social state of law. Crime is fought in many ways. All of them are essential. I want to defend Colombian families from daily and everyday insecurity—be it from machista violence or any other violence.
- I will fight corruption with a firm hand and without hesitation. A government of "zero tolerance". We will recover what was stolen, we will be vigilant so that it does not happen again and we will transform the system to discourage this type of practice. Not family, not friends, not colleagues, not collaborators—no one is excluded from the weight of the law, from the commitment against corruption and from my determination to fight against it. From now on, the State intelligence corps will not persecute the political opposition, nor the free press, nor the judiciary, nor those who think differently. Today, the main objective of the State intelligence corps is to locate and fight corruption.
- I will protect our soil and subsoil, our seas and rivers. Our air and sky. Our landscapes define us and fill us with pride. And, for that reason, I will not allow the greed of a few to put our biodiversity at risk. We will confront the uncontrolled deforestation of our forests and promote the development of renewable energies. Colombia will be a world power of life. Planet Earth is the common home of human beings. And Colombia, from its enormous natural wealth, will lead this fight for planetary life.
- I will develop national industry, the popular economy and the Colombian countryside. We will prioritise the peasant woman, the woman of the popular economy, the micro, small and medium entrepreneurs of Colombia. But our invitation is to produce, to work, to be aware that we will only be a rich society if we work, and that work—more and more in the twenty-first century—is a property of the knowledge of the brain, of human intelligence. We will accompany and support all those who work hard for Colombia: the farmer who rises at dawn, the artisan who keeps our culture alive, the entrepreneur who creates jobs. We need everyone to grow and redistribute wealth. Science, culture and knowledge are the fuel of the 21st century. We are going to develop a society of knowledge and technology.
- I will comply with our Constitution. As stated in Article I: "Colombia is a social State under the rule of law, organised as a unitary, decentralised Republic, with autonomy of its territorial entities, democratic, participatory and pluralistic, founded on respect for human dignity, on the work and solidarity of the people who make it up and on the prevalence of the general interest". We will also develop a new legal framework to make our development sustainable, fair and egalitarian.