Colombian President Gustavo Petro Tuesday said during his appearance at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, that oil- extracting in the Essequibo area held by Guyana but claimed by Venezuela should not go on. He also reckoned the dispute was on the verge of becoming a military conflict.
What human life should consider is not who the owner of the Essequibo is but that the oil in the Essequibo does not come out because, if it comes out, our fight against the climate crisis practically becomes an innocuous discourse, Petro argued before the panel Seeking a balance for the Amazon.
Colombia says no more oil exploitation and that is why during COP-28 it signed last month in Dubai the treaty of non-proliferation of fuels, which is only signed by the islands that are about to disappear with their populations, Petro insisted while underlining the importance of saving the Amazon region, which he believes is foundation of human life.
He suggested exchanging debt for climate action to reform the global financial system and obtain the 2.5 billion dollars a year that he considers sufficient to revitalize the already deforested area and to maintain over the years the construction of a bioeconomy in the Amazon. It is not a handout, it is a powerful mechanism for financing climate action.
Colombia's first ever leftwing head of state also welcomed Brazil's softer proposal not to impose country risk surcharges on Colombia, which would allow the South American country to finance the revitalization of the Amazon rainforest.
The Amazon rainforest is worth more than the oil that is in there, it is life, and oil is death. But, in order to be able to do so, we have to reduce emissions from the northern chimneys, he said.
Hence, in the case of the 160,000 square kilometer Essequibo, Venezuela will say that it belongs to Venezuela and Guyana says that it belongs to Guyana, which in Petro's words, is a conflict on the verge of becoming a military conflict.
We have to compensate Guyana and Venezuela so that this oil that is in the Amazon jungle, in the territory of the Essequibo, does not leave, he concluded.
During his visit to Casa Colombia in Davos, Petro also called for a change in the productive matrix to achieve a decarbonized world to tackle the origin of the climate crisis.
Colombia has been defending, since my government, the possibility of solving the climate crisis from a leap of conception of humanity in front of nature, in front of its planet, said Petro, who took office in August 2022. This objective implies undoubtedly deep political changes, transformations of society and its conception, he added. Petro's administration has already taken measures in this regard as a demonstration effect of the need to decarbonize the economy, he also noted. Colombia now seeks to attract tourists and investors to exploit its enormous biodiversity instead of focusing on the extraction of carbons, Petro explained.
We have made the #ElPaísDeLaBelleza campaign trying to invite, not only investors, but ordinary people, to visit Colombia, to look at that biodiversity, to feel the relationship with the intensity of life from biodiversity.
We want to replace - and that is the economic motive - the foreign exchange that Colombia receives from coal and oil, most of its foreign exchange for the last 40, 50 years, with tourism.
Petro is scheduled to make a second appearance Wednesday before the WEF, this time to speak on security and cooperation, alongside Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte; Rwanda President Paul Kagame; and billionaire Bill Gates, among other speakers.