President Gustavo Petro’s historic speech at the United Nations General Assembly.
There is no total peace without social, economic and environmental justice. We are also at war with the planet. Without peace with the planet, there will be no peace among nations. Without social justice, there is no social peace.
I come from one of the three most beautiful countries on Earth.
There is an explosion of life there. Thousands of multicoloured species in the seas, in the skies, in the lands… I come from the land of yellow butterflies and magic. There in the mountains and valleys of all greens, not only do the abundant waters flow down, but also the torrents of blood. I come from a land of bloody beauty.
My country is not only beautiful: it is also violent.
How can beauty be conjugated with death? How can the biodiversity of life erupt with the dances of death and horror? Who is guilty of breaking the enchantment with terror? Who or what is responsible for drowning life in the routine decisions of wealth and interest? Who is leading us to destruction as a nation and as a people?
My country is beautiful because it has the Amazon jungle, the Chocó jungle, the waters, the Andes mountains and the oceans. There, in those forests, planetary oxygen is emanated and atmospheric CO2 is absorbed. One of these CO2 absorbing plants, among millions of species, is one of the most persecuted on earth. At any cost, its destruction is sought: it is an Amazonian plant, the coca plant, sacred plant of the Incas. [It is in] a paradoxical crossroads.
The jungle that tries to save us is, at the same time, destroyed. To destroy the coca plant, they spray poisons, glyphosate, in mass that runs through the waters, they arrest its growers and imprison them. For destroying or possessing the coca leaf, one million Latin Americans have been killed and two million African-Americans are imprisoned in North America. Destroy the plant that kills, they shout from the North, but the plant is but one more of the millions that perish when they unleash the fire on the jungle. Destroying the jungle, the Amazon, has become the slogan followed by states and businessmen. The cry of scientists baptising the rainforest as one of the great climatic pillars is unimportant.
For the world’s power relations, the jungle and its inhabitants are to blame for the plague that plagues them. The power relations are plagued by the addiction to money, to perpetuate themselves, to oil, to cocaine and to the hardest drugs to be able to anesthetise themselves more. Nothing is more hypocritical than the discourse to save the rainforest. The jungle is burning, gentlemen, while you make war and play with it. The rainforest, the climatic pillar of the world, disappears with all its life.
The great sponge that absorbs planetary CO2 evaporates. The saviour forest is seen in my country as the enemy to be defeated, as the weed to be extinguished.
Coca, and the peasants who grow it because