As President of a country composed of over 40 per cent tropical rainforests, Mr. Duque said Colombia is one of the nations most exposed to the effects of climate change. It is clear, he said, that deforestation in the Amazon is “directly linked” to illegal armed groups seeking territories to engage in their illicit activities, which in turn are financed by drug trafficking.
To put an end to this, he said that his Government had managed this year to reduce deforestation in the country by about 17 per cent. He added that earlier this month, Colombia, along with six other Amazonian countries, has signed the ‘Leticia Pact’, which aims to protect the world’s largest rainforest, which for weeks during this past summer had been devastated by wildfires.
Turning to peacebuilding in Colombia, Mr. Duque highlighted the efforts to establish a “culture of legality” in the country, following the peace agreement signed in 2016 between the Government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC-EP).
In this context, he said that the demobilization, disarmament and reintegration of former guerrillas was under way and included, among others, more than 25 projects which had benefited some 1,934 ex-combatants to date.
“Today, it is a united nation that speaks to this House, confident in its ability to overcome violence through law,” he stated, and thanked the international community for the establishment of the UN Verification Mission in Colombia.
However, Mr. Duque warned against those who “persist in the path of crime.” He told the Assembly that a few weeks ago, a “group of narco-terrorists” had tried to intimidate Colombia “under false ideological pretexts.” The Colombian Government had not and would not yield to the threats of this “group.”
As proof of his determination to fight against narco-traffic, Mr. Duque noted that the Government had managed, for the first time in seven years, to limit the growth of coca cultivation in the country.
“The more coca there is, the less peace there is,” he explained, calling the drug trade “predator of the environment,” and “fuel for terrorism” he added that to fight more effectively against the consequences of this traffic, he was working, alongside others towards creation of an international anti-corruption court.
Turning to the situation in Venezuela, President Duque said that millions are “fleeing a once rich and now starved nation.”
Mr. Duque affirmed that he had formal evidence of the support granted by the Venezuelan Government to criminal groups, who aimed to “attack Colombia.” He intended to hand over a dossier of this proof to the President of the General Assembly and the UN Secretary-General.