(CNN) — Former Colombian President Cesar Gaviria on Tuesday strongly criticized the United States’ approach to fighting drugs.
“Just putting all consumers in jail, as the U.S. does, is not a solution,” he told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. “You have to reduce consumption.”
In a wide ranging interview, Gaviria said the United States now has more people in jail for narco-trafficking or related crimes than there are prisoners in the whole of Europe. “What you need to do with addicts and people who consume drugs is deal with them as a health problem, an education problem,” he said.
Gaviria and two other former Latin American presidents — Fernando Cardoso of Brazil and Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico — are all arguing the war on drugs has failed and it is time to replace current policy with what they call a more humane and efficient approach.
Gaviria said it’s time the United States changed its approach. “The U.S. has to look at its policy, to start to use more of that $4 billion a year that they use, to use more of the resources in the health system, in treatment and taking some people out of jail.”