'It's Time To Change Our Strategy': Nobel Peace Prize Honoree Juan Manuel Santos Addresses Harmful Effects of Drug War

By Seth Ferranti 12/16/16

During his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech, the Colombian president expressed his thoughts on the current War on Drugs.

President Juan Manuel Santos
Photo via YouTube

Juan Manuel Santos, the President of Colombia, recently won the Nobel Peace Prize for making a historic peace treaty with the leftist rebels from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

In a ceremony in Oslo, Norway, he spoke about ending the long-running conflict and about the state of drug trafficking worldwide. From billion-dollar cartels to narco-states to counter insurgencies, Colombia has seen it all. President Santos has done the unthinkable by ending the bloodshed in Colombia—blood that's been spilt over ideals and cocaine money. Several FARC victims attended the ceremony pledging their support. 

"Ladies and gentlemen, there is one less war in the world, and it is the war in Colombia,” said President Santos. “What we sign today is a declaration from the Colombian people before the world that we are tired of war, that we don’t accept violence as the means of defending ideas. [This] seemed an impossible dream, and for good reason. The FARC has asked for forgiveness ... [and the victims] have forgiven them.”

After five decades of war the conflict is over, but President Santos commented on another war that is still ongoing and crippling not only South American countries but the U.S. as well.

While on the podium to accept his Nobel Prize, President Santos used the forum to express his thoughts on the current War on Drugs, saying that it's time to “rethink” the war "where Colombia has been the country that has paid the highest cost in deaths and sacrifices ... The manner in which this war against drugs is being waged is equally or perhaps even more harmful than all the wars the world is fighting today, combined.” 

President Santos has argued that the over 30-year drug war supported and promoted by the U.S. government has had disastrous effects in Colombia and around the globe, producing violence on an unprecedented scale in nations that supply cocaine to the U.S., a major consumer of the drug.

Santos says we need a global focus on relaxing prohibition laws and the illegality of narcotics. States like California and Colorado have made a start, but there is still a long way to go until all these laws are overhauled. 

The Nobel Peace Prize winner has joined a large chorus of influential figures who have publicly called for an end to the drug war, including The Wire star Michael K. Williams, hip hop mogul Jay Z, rapper T.I. and Orange is the New Black's Piper Kerman.

With full marijuana legalization on the way in the U.S., it's time to reassess our policies and how the the drug war has affected other countries like Colombia.

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After landing on the US Marshals Top-15 Most Wanted list and being sentenced to a 25 year sentence in federal prison for a first-time, nonviolent LSD offense, Seth built a writing and journalism career from his cell block. His raw portrayals of prison life and crack era gangsters graced the pages of Don DivaHoopshype and VICE. From prison he established Gorilla Convict, a true-crime publisher and website that documents the stories that the mainstream media can’t get with books like Prison Stories and Street Legends. His story has been covered by The Washington PostThe Washington Times, and Rolling Stone.

Since his release in 2015 he’s worked hard to launch GR1ND Studios, where true crime and comics clash. GR1ND Studios is bringing variety to the comic shelf by way of the American underground. These groundbreaking graphic novels tell the true story of prohibition-era mobsters, inner-city drug lords, and suburban drug dealers. Seth is currently working out of St. Louis, Missouri, writing for The FixVICEOZY, Daily Beast, and Penthouse and moving into the world of film. Check out his first short, Easter Bunny Assassin at sethferranti.com. You can find Seth on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter.