Colombian President Gustavo Petro has called for a fresh global strategy to combat illegal drugs trafficking.
Speaking at his inauguration on Sunday, the country’s first ever left-wing leader declared the “war on drugs” a failure, a BBC report said.
Hundreds of thousands of people died in Colombia’s decades-long civil war, fuelled in part by the narcotics trade.
The 62-year-old former Bogota mayor and ex-rebel fighter was elected in June on a radical manifesto promising to fight inequality and ban new oil projects.
Petro told the crowd present that it is time for a new global convention that “accepts the war on drugs has failed”.
“It has left a million dead Latin Americans during 40 years,” he said, “and it leaves 70,000 North Americans dead by overdose each year.”
More than 50 years ago, US President Richard Nixon kick-started a global anti-narcotics strategy that emphasised criminalisation and the use of police force, which became known as the “war on drugs”.
Colombia’s new president said the strategy has merely strengthened the power of mafia gangs and weakened Latin American states over decades.