Speed Reads

Just say no

Colombia's president says you can't do cocaine and claim to be an environmentalist

If you use cocaine and call yourself an environmentalist, Colombian President Iván Duque considers you a hypocrite.

During an interview with The Guardian on Monday, Duque discussed the different ways cocaine production harms his country. "There are many people who present themselves as environmentalists, and if they want to be coherent, they must understand all the environmental damage that is caused by the production of cocaine — not just destroying tropical forests, [but] spreading chemicals in protected areas and destroying human capital," he said, adding, "How can you present yourself as a defender of the environment when you are creating so much harm? There needs to be an end to hypocrisy and inconsistency."

Colombia is the world's top exporter of cocaine. Coca is the source of cocaine, and after years of spraying coca crops from the air with herbicides, Colombia stopped the practice in 2015; farmers had complained their legal crops were also being destroyed and the herbicide was linked to cancer. Duque told The Guardian he is bringing back aerial spraying, and it will start in a few weeks. The right-wing president added that his decision has nothing to do with the United States pressuring him to do something about an increase in cocaine exports to the country.