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Colombia’s Petro Sounds the Alarm on Amazon and Hypocrisy at the UN


The President of Colombia, Gustavo Petro at the United Nations General Assembly. Credit: United Nations

Gustavo Petro, the President of Colombia, delivered a historic speech at the United Nations General Assembly where he denounced the failure of the war on drugs and the destruction of thousands of lives. He also spoke of the environment and the Amazon rainforest.

Petro often made use of the word “hypocrisy,” a word of Greek origin, in his descriptions of how world leaders attempt to purportedly “help” Colombia, his homeland, only as a means to their own ends. Furthermore, international companies, he maintained, show support for Colombia because they are primarily targeting the country’s resources. However, this decades-long practice of big powers is not limited to Colombia, of course.

The newly elect,ed President described his country as one of the most beautiful and richest nations in terms of nature, and explained that the persistent violence in the jungle was fueled by the targeting of the sacred plant of the Incas, namely the coca plant.

Wars on drugs and climate crisis have failed

In what was his first speech, the President of Colombia proclaimed that the war on drugs, a US inspired and supported operation that has cost thousands of lives in Colombia, and the initiatives to avert the climate crisis have both failed.

“Do you want less drugs?” he inquired. “Think less profit and more love. Think of a rational exercise of power. Do not touch the beauty of my country with your poisons.”

In the past decades, tons of carcinogenic chemicals have been sprayed on Colombia’s forests to destroy the Coca plant, used for the production of cocaine.

Instead, “help us, without hypocrisy, to save the Amazon jungle, to save the life of humanity on the planet,” Petro implored.

The Amazon and world leaders’ hypocrisy

The President criticized the destruction of the forest to promote the consumption of elements such as coal and oil, and he also asked countries to stop wars and strategically invest in the forest to save it.

The President also pointed out that “the jungle that we are trying to save is at the same time [being] destroyed” and described the discourse of developed countries to save the jungle, which “burns while war is waged and played with” as highly “hypocritical.” In turn, Petro proposed that international community resources go towards investing in nature.

“If they do not have the capacity to finance the fund for the revitalization of the forests, [and] if it [is more important] to allocate money to weapons than to life, then reduce the external debt to free up…budget spaces [so that we can]…carry out the task of saving humanity and life on the planet,” he stressed. “We can do it ourselves if you don’t want to.”

A call for world peace from Colombia

At the end of his speech, the Colombian President called for world peace.

“The war served as an excuse for us not to take the necessary measures,” he declared. “When actions were most needed, when speeches no longer served, when it was essential to deposit money in the funds to save humanity, when it was necessary to get away from coal and oil as soon as possible, one war and another and another were invented.”

“They invaded Ukraine, but also Iraq, and Libya, and Syria,” and “they invaded in the name of oil and gas,” he concluded.

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