The newly elected Colombian president, Gustavo Petro, on Sunday proposed ending the system of extradition to the United States for people who are subject to demands for justice in their country. In an interview with Cambio’s website, Colombia’s first leftist in power suggested “making extradition conditional on non-compliance” with “peaceful dismantling of drug trafficking”. That action will depend on “negotiating with the United States, and they probably don’t want to” defined by the senator and ex-combatant who was elected on June 19 with more than 50% of the vote. Extradition is “a bilateral treaty and therefore there are two of us, as in any marriage.” The 62-year-old will take over the reins of the US’s main ally in the region on August 7.
The two countries have been cooperating for nearly half a century in the fight against drug trafficking, of which Petro is one of his fiercest critics. Two days after his election, Petro spoke by phone with US President Joe Biden, saying he was committed to building a “more equal relationship.” Biden said he hopes to “continue to strengthen bilateral cooperation.” As part of his ambitious program to transform a country marked by deep social divisions and violence, Petro announced a “policy of mass submission” to drug traffickers during his election campaign, without providing further details. Extradition has long been a key tool used to punish cocaine kings such as O’Tonnell, the former head of Colombia’s largest drug cartel, who was extradited to the United States in May. Colombia remains the world’s largest cocaine producer and the United States the largest consumer of the drug.
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