The Director of Colombia’s National Directorate of Taxes and Customs (DIAN) Luis Carlos Reyes declared on Thursday that it was “time to legalize and tax” cocaine in the South American nation, the world’s top cocaine producer.
Reyes’ comments were accompanied by a quote from Colombian far-left president Gustavo Petro that referenced and shared an article published by the left-wing magazine the Economist on Wednesday that called for the legalization of cocaine, titled “Joe Biden is too timid. It is time to legalise cocaine.”
Hay que legalizar (y gravar) la cocaína. https://t.co/0b1CWxEs57
— Luis Carlos Reyes (@luiscrh) October 14, 2022
The article references Petro’s stance towards the deadly drug: In the past he has described it as less poisonous than sugar and less harmful than fossil fuels. Petro used his first address at the United Nations General Assembly to defend the use of the drug.
Prior to being president of the country, Petro was a member of M-19, a Marxist terrorist organization.
Reyes was appointed head of Colombia’s tax authority in July shortly before Petro took office in August. Reyes further elaborated on his statement by commenting that Colombia needs to crack down on what he described as “VIP” tax evaders.
“The way things are, in Colombia we wouldn’t have caught Al Capone neither because he was a smuggler nor because he was an evader,” Reyes said.
Colombia is the world’s biggest producer of the coca bush, producing over 60 percent of the world’s coca employed in the manufacturing of cocaine, according to a report published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in June.
Colombia’s ongoing debate over the decriminalization of drugs took a new turn with the election of Petro to the presidency.
In July, a group of Colombian lawmakers led by Senator Gustavo Bolívar signed a letter in favor of decriminalizing drug use in Colombia, including cocaine, announcing that a bill would be introduced in Congress to that end.
Reyes’ comments calling for the legalization of cocaine drew a series of reactions among Colombian senators. Senator Maria Fernanda Cabal of the Democratic Center party responded by stating, “They dream of a narco-state. They continue to think that cocaine is not as harmful as hydrocarbons.”
Hernan Dario Cadavid Marquez, member of Colombia’s House of Representatives, commented via Twitter, “A source of [tax revenue] collection can not be an excuse to legalize destroyers of society such as cocaine. Will they propose to legalize heroin tomorrow?”
Señor director de la @DIANColombia, una fuente de recaudo NO puede ser excusa para legalizar destructores de la sociedad como la cocaína.
¿Mañana nos propondrán legalizar la heroína? pic.twitter.com/REwNjxml4e
— Hernán Cadavid (@hernancadavidma) October 14, 2022
Senator Carlos Fernando Motoa commented on the matter, expressing: “Enough of comments that affect the economy, security policies and that generate uncertainty. They want to turn us into a narco-state!”
La constante en este gobierno es la improvisación.
Propuesta del director de la @DIANColombia sin fundamentos genera preocupación.
Basta ya de comentarios que afectan la economía, políticas de seguridad y que generan incertidumbre.
¡Nos quieren convertir en un narcoestado! https://t.co/95Boap50kp
— Carlos Fernando Motoa (@senadormotoa) October 14, 2022
On the other hand, Senator Bolívar, who expressed his support of decriminalizing cocaine in the past, said, “Today that legal marijuana is a fact, I continue to campaign for the regulation of cocaine,” which he considers to be the only way out of Colombia’s war on drugs.
En 2018 Radiqué 2 proyectos para legalizar Marihuana. Pocos creían
Hoy que Marihuana legal es un hecho, sigo campaña por regulación de cocaína, ÚNICA salida a la guerra.
Cada año de prohibicionismo nos cuesta miles de muertos y quienes la van a legalizar apenas cursan preescolar!
— Gustavo Bolívar (@GustavoBolivar) October 14, 2022
Currently, a bill is under debate in the Colombian Senate that seeks to legalize the use of cannabis. As of Tuesday, the bill has passed two of the eight debates required before the it becomes law in Colombia. Medicinal use of cannabis was allowed in Colombia during the Presidency of Juan Manuel Santos (2010 – 2018).
Christian K. Caruzo is a Venezuelan writer and documents life under socialism. You can follow him on Twitter here.