Colombian President: 'You Won't Need Walls' With Economic Development
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos withheld his approval of President Trump's proposed border wall between the United States and Mexico Thursday evening in an interview with Bret Baier.
"The best wall that you can build is economic development in Central America and South America," Santos responded when asked for his thoughts on the wall.
"I urge President Trump and all of the United States to look more to the south," he told Baier. "The strategic interests of the United States are much more important in the south, in Latin America, than many parts of the world."
"If you see that, then you won't need walls," the Colombian leader concluded.
Still, Santos expressed optimism about his meeting with President Trump earlier in the day, saying it "ratified" the commitment and "special relationship" of cooperation between the two countries.
At a joint press conference earlier Thursday, President Trump did not mince words regarding his serious concerns about illegal drugs, such as cocaine pouring into the United States from Colombia.
"The drug epidemic is poisoning too many American lives, and we're going to stop it many different ways. One of them will be the wall," Trump stated.
Colombia was responsible for making 710 metric tons of cocaine last year, compared to only 235 tons in 2013.
Santos touted his country's "very effective" "carrot and stick" policy, which substitutes legal crops for illegal ones.
"We're doing extremely well. We are seizing enormous amounts of tons of cocaine," he said, adding that each year they confiscate more of the illegal substance.
Santos pushed some blame back on the United States, saying that "if you didn't demand the drugs, we wouldn't supply them."
Colombia has suffered more than any other country in the war on drugs, he added.
Regarding his unstable neighbor Venezuela, Santos said he is hoping for a nonviolent democratic transition of power, since Colombia would suffer most if the violence expands to other countries.
His three objectives for Venezuela are that the country settle on a calendar for elections, that the regime recognize the authority of the general assembly, and that political prisoners are liberated.
Santos received Nobel Peace Prize last year for his efforts to promote peace between his government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).
Watch the full interview above.