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Colombian coca production up for 3rd straight year

Location: 
Bogota
Colombia
Publication/Source: 
Houston Chronicle
URL: 
http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/front/4857918.html

Mexico's President is Half Right

Mexican President Felipe Calderon told Deutsche Press-Agentur this weekend that America's drug habit is the cause of Mexico's drug prohibition-related violence. In Mexican President Blames US for Drugs War, Calderon said:
"Our problem is the demand for narcotics in the US market, which significantly affects Mexico," the Mexican president said. Calderon stressed that no strategy from the Mexican government against drug cartels will be sufficient unless demand is reduced. "It is evident that as long as there is a market, as long as there is drug consumption in the United States, this problem will persist in Mexico," he said.
Calderon is, of course, absolutely correct on that score. I've often noted that the prohibition-related violence plaguing our southern neighbor--there have been 1,046 killed in Mexico's drug wars so far this year--is Mexico paying the price for our war on the drugs we love to consume. Where he is wrong is his implicit assumption that the US government can meaningfully reduce demand and that the war on drugs could somehow succeed if--gosh darnit!--we Americans only tried harder. We spend about $40 billion and arrest nearly 2 million people a year in the drug war, and the drug use numbers fluctuate at the margins. The US drug market will never go away. If Calderon wants to see an end to the prohibition-related violence in Mexico, he would be much better off calling for the regulation and normalization of the illicit drug business than waiting for Americans to quit using drugs. The only thing less likely than the US government ending drug prohibition is that Americans are going to change their ways.
Location: 
United States

Mexican President Blames US for Drug War

Location: 
United States
Publication/Source: 
Press TV
URL: 
http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=11883&sectionid=3510207

Northern Province Says No to Opium

Location: 
BDS
Afghanistan
Publication/Source: 
Institute for War and Peace Reporting
URL: 
http://www.iwpr.net/?p=arr&s=f&o=336039&apc_state=henparr

Peru's anti-drug efforts lacking bite

Location: 
Lima
Peru
Publication/Source: 
Miami Herald
URL: 
http://www.miamiherald.com/579/story/126423.html

Indian rebels turn to poppy for funds

Location: 
JH
India
Publication/Source: 
Daily Times (Pakistan)
URL: 
http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2007%5C06%5C01%5Cstory_1-6-2007_pg4_18

Ponder This Graph for a Moment, Please

graph from WOLA and AIN (graph from WOLA/AIN memo, link below) This graph shows what about $10 billion in US taxpayer dollars has accomplished. Note that while coca production has shifted within the region, the 1992 levels and the 2005 levels are essentially identical. Why is our coca eradication policy not subjected to cost-benefit analysis? Is there anyone who will argue that it is working? If so, I'd like to hear it. To be fair, that $10 billion has accomplished some things. It has engendered massive social conflict in all three countries, it has led to tens of thousands of peasant farmers being arrested as drug traffickers, it has led to thousands of deaths (especially in Colombia, where the eradication policy is part of the US's broader military intervention in that country's festering civil war). Your tax dollars at work. $10 billion is a lot of money. Heck, we could finance the Iraq war for a few weeks with it! Or we could give $100,000 college scholarships to 10,000 students. Or build $100,000 homes for 10,000 families. Or numerous other programs that, unlike the coca eradication program, might actually accomplish something. By the way, I came across the graph above in a memo from the Andean Information Network and the Washington Office on Latin America. That memo was occasioned by the US government's release of coca cultivation estimates for Bolivia. The US government has for months been complaining that Bolivian President Evo Morales' pro-coca policies were going to lead to a boom in production there. Surprise! It didn't. Read the memo for some juicy analysis.
Location: 
United States

Why the US is Losing Its War on Cocaine

Location: 
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Independent (UK)
URL: 
http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/article2586645.ece

Why the US is losing its war on cocaine

Location: 
United States
Publication/Source: 
The Independent (UK)
URL: 
http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/article2586645.ece

Latin America: UN Drug Office Blames Central American Crime and Violence on Drugs, Not Prohibition

Central America's stability and development is being thwarted by crime and violence, much of it caused by the drug trade, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) said in a report released Wednesday. However, the report called for an intensification of the prohibitionist policies that helped create the problems in the first place.

http://stopthedrugwar.org/files/un-report-cover.jpg
global and tunnel vision at the same time
When a multi-billion dollar drug trafficking industry and the violence it generates is added to a witch's brew of social problems, including poverty, income disparity, gang violence, high homicide rates, easy access to firearms, weak political and social institutions, and widespread corruption, the weak Central American nations are under siege, the report warned.

"The warning signs are evident in this report -- gun-related crime, gang violence, kidnapping, the proliferation of private security companies," said UNODC executive director Antonio Maria Costa in a press release accompanying the report. "But these problems are in no way inherent to the region. They can be overcome."

Sandwiched between the coca and cocaine producing regions of South America and the insatiable market for cocaine in North America, Central America sees nearly 90% of cocaine headed north. While little of it falls off the truck -- Central American usage rates are low, according to UNODC -- violence and corruption associated with the black market drug trade take their toll.

"Where crime and corruption reign and drug money perverts the economy, the State no longer has a monopoly on the use of force and citizens no longer trust their leaders and public institutions," Mr. Costa said, underscoring that development is stunted where crime and corruption thrive. "As a result, the social contract is in tatters and people take the law into their own hands."

Countries in the region and beyond need to work together to strengthen their criminal justice systems, and break the links between drugs, crime, and underdevelopment, the UNODC advised. "Cooperation is vital," Costa said. "The problems are too big, too inter-linked and too dangerous to be left to individual states."

But rather than revising the global drug prohibition regime that generates the huge black market flows of cash, drugs, and guns at the root of many of Central America's problems, Costa and the UNODC simply call for more of the same. "We have a shared responsibility and common interest in helping the countries of Central America to withstand external pressures and to strengthen their internal resistance to the damaging effects of drugs and crime," Costa said. "Let us unlock the potential of this region."

If Costa and the UNODC suffer from tunnel vision when it comes to drug prohibition, at least they displayed a nuanced understanding of the youth gangs or "maras" that are so quickly demonized in the press. "Heavy-handed crackdowns on gangs alone will not resolve the underlying problem. Indeed, it may exacerbate them," Costa noted. "Gang culture is a symptom of a deeper social malaise that cannot be solved by putting all disaffected street kids behind bars. The future of Central America depends on seeing youth as an asset rather than a liability."

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