[ View the story "Is it time to decriminalise drugs?" on Storify] Is it time to decriminalise drugs? With trafficking-related violence increasing across Latin America, leaders call for policy changes.
Storified by The Stream · Mon, Mar 12 2012 12:15:12
In May 2011 Mexican citizens took to the streets to participate in a campaign called NoMás Sangre (translated NoMore Blood in English). Thecampaign tried to bring attention to the drug cartels and governmentcrackdown that has led to nearly 50,000 deaths in the past 5 years. About 75 per cent of all murders in Mexico are reported to be drug-related.
The Andeancountries of Peru, Colombia, and Bolivia are the main growers of the coca leaf,the main ingredient in cocaine. This map from the United Nations Office onDrugs and Crime’s
2011 World Drug Report
shows the global flow of cocaine.
TheUNDOC estimates cocaine traffickers made $84 billion in 2009 in gross profits. In comparison, the coca farmers were estimated to have earned less than $1 billion in the same time frame.
BolivianPresident Evo Morales maintains that the coca leaf is not a narcotic in its natural, unprocessed form and is an integral part of Andean culture. The nexttwo videos from the
Hungarian Civil Liberties Union show PresidentMorales speaking at a United Nations meeting in 2009 to advocate for the leaf’straditional uses and even chewing on a leaf to prove his point. The UN has classifiedthe coca leaf as an illegal drug and calls for the eradication of coca bushes.
Morales is chewing coca at the UN - part 1 [Sub: ENG]huncivlibunion
Morales is chewing coca at the UN - part 2 [Sub: ENG]huncivlibunion
An indigenous coca farmer chews on cocaleaves. Although the coca leaf has many health benefits—it is believed tocure altitude sickness and curb hunger—it is also the main ingredient incocaine.
These pictures show coca growers harvesting their crop in the fields and gathering them in storehouses.
Cocalero by Alejandro Landes documentsthe effects of the war on drugs from the perspective of the indigenous cocafarmers in Bolivia. The film highlights Evo Morales’ bid for the presidency ashe defends the rights of the farmers, who would go on to form a powerful union.
In its War on Drugs campaign, the US has funded the aerial fumigation of coca crops in Colombia. Thousands of Colombians protested the spraying of their coca fields with pesticides in September 2011. Critics argue that the aerial fumigation has done little to combat the drug problem while destroying the livelihood and damaging the health of coca farmers. These photos show Colombian coca farmland after fumigation.
Thisvideo shows clips of police and military effort to fight the "War on Drugs" in Mexico.
La Guerra contra el Narcotráfico en Méxicogrillonautas
Thismap and graph documents both the total and drug war-related homicides in Mexicofrom 2004 to 2010.
Drug War in Mexico - Map | Visual.lyThis interactive map lets compares homicides and drug-related homicides, with the ability to examine marijuana, opium, and drug-lab-relat...
This map illustrates the various
Colombian drug-trafficking organizations in Central America
. The red placemarks in the region indicate areas where Colombian authorities claim the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) sells cocaine. The yellow markers are transfer points and the red exclamation point marks in Honduras, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic indicate areas where officials have discovered cocaine-processing labs.
GuatemalanPresident Perez Molina is the first serving head of state to directly challengedecades of US policy by calling for drug decriminalisation. He believes theso-called "War on Drugs" is failing and wants regional leaders to join him in adialogue on the subject. The leaders of El Salvador and Panama have not expressedsupport for legalising drugs, though they say they are open to discussing theissue when the Central American leaders meet on March 24 in Guatemala. This video shows President Molina delivering hisinauguration speech in January.
Discurso del Presidente Otto Pérez Molinapoderpatriota
Under the Mérida Initiative, the United States government providesmillions of dollars to the governments of Mexico and Central American countriesto combat drug trafficking, organised crime, and money laundering. The Mérida Initiative is in its fourth year and has shifted focus awayfrom providing heavy equipment and towards training and capacity building.
Policy Brief 188: Merida's New Directionviewfromwashington
Thisvideo from Learn Liberty states the detrimental effects that drug prohibition hason society from an economics standpoint. It argues that prohibition does not eliminatethe supply or demand for illicit drugs but simply transfers it into the blackmarket, where it is not afforded legal protection. The video also argues thatprison costs and homicide rates increase with drug prohibition.
What You Should Know About Drug Prohibitionlearnliberty
Thegroup Intelligence Squared will host a debate on the drug war on Google+ on Tuesday,March 13 at 7:00 p.m. GMT. Speakers will include Richard Branson, RussellBrand, Julian Assange, Eliott Spitzer, and Vicente Fox.
The War on Drugs : Versus Debate : 13th March, 7pm GMTversusdebates
This cartoon is in reference to Mexican President Felipe Calderón's visit to Stanford University in 2011. A plane flew overhead during his commencement speech with a banner that read, "No more blood. 40,000 dead! How many more?" The cartoon has him responding, "Soon they'll stop bothering me about the 40,000 dead and will start complaining about the 50,000 to-be dead..."