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President Petro Condemns Capitalism: ‘Building Walls And Dropping Bombs’

Above photo: Colombian President Gustavo Petro (right) and US billionaire Bill Gates (left) conversing during a panel at the World Economic Forum on Wednesday, January 17, 2024. Office of Colombian Presidency.

The president of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, made a statement at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that he would like to see “the power of international law” restored, and the global financial system changed.

During his speech this Wednesday, January 17, at the “Addressing the North-South Schism” panel, the Colombian president referred to the need to reestablish “the power of international law,” which he noted “has practically fallen to pieces.”

On Tuesday, President Petro referred to his proposal to change public debt for environmental protection, especially in the Amazon, a region that he reiterated requires urgent climate action. According to him, a significant injection of resources is required to save the Amazon rainforest, estimated to be around $2.5 billion per year, which requires a significant change from public debt to climate action, and not the current model of “handouts”.

“We need a flow of approximately $2.5 billion a year to revitalize the already deforested space and to maintain over the years the construction of a bio-economy,” he said, “that is, an economy with the jungle and not against the jungle, which means sustaining it.”

Petro also referred to the Essequibo territorial dispute between Venezuelan and Guyana in this context, noting that oil extraction in the Essequibo territory—currently under Guyanese administration but claimed by Venezuela—should not continue. He also mentioned that the dispute was on the verge of turning into a military conflict, averted so far by Guyanese President Irfaan Ali’s acceptance of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro’s call for direct dialogue.

“What human life must consider is not who owns the Essequibo but that the oil from the Essequibo does not come out,” Petro said during the panel ‘Seeking a balance for the Amazon,’ “because, if it comes out, our fight against the climate crisis would just become an innocuous speech.”

Colombia’s position is that of “no more oil exploitation,” which is why—during the COP 28 Summit of 2023—it signed the fuel non-proliferation treaty last month in Dubai, “which only the islands that are about to disappear with their populations have so far signed,” Petro stated, underlining the importance of saving the Amazon region, which in his opinion is “the foundation of human life.”

From war to genocide

The Colombian president further recalled that a year ago, in the same forum, the term ‘polycrisis’ was coined. “I think that things have gotten worse because from war we went to genocide, to bombing children,” he said, referring to the Israeli occupation entity’s criminal bombing against the population of the Gaza Strip, Palestine, which has caused the death of at least 12,000 innocent children in less than 100 days.

In his opinion, the schism in the world is represented by “fortress capitalism, which builds walls and drops bombs.” When discussing solutions to the Israeli entity’s illegal occupation and ethnic cleansing of Palestine, he referred to the fact that the votes in the United Nations Security Council “have politically separated the Global North and the Global South.”

Smearing campaign

During his participation in the Davos Forum, President Petro was targeted in a new smear campaign, when a video montage that altered the official video of one of the president’s speeches at the forum was circulated and made viral in social media across Colombia. In the video montage, they made alterations to the president’s voice that implied that—at the time of making his statement—he had been drunk, or in a state of intoxication.

One of the Colombian far-right political figures who spread the false video on social media was Luis Guillermo Vélez, a member of the Democratic Center and the alderman of Medellín. When the video was proven to be a fake, the Uribista politician offered a public apology on social media: “Yesterday I posted a video where the president seemed drunk saying nonsense. Some friends told me it was an edited video and I took it down. I apologize to Gustavo Petro, and am publishing the original video,” he wrote.

President Petro responded to the apology in these terms: “You are a public servant and a university professor. Manipulating the truth to destroy the honor and morals of another public servant is conduct that breaks the disciplinary code,” he stated, before adding, “I accept your apology, and hope that other members of the opposition will abandon this practice of manipulation and falsehood.”

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