A Review of How Prohibition Conditoned the Course of Colombia's History

35 years of aerial spraying with potent chemical mixtures

(under cosntruction/transaltion)

If you come to this place, so far away from your country, in search of the evil that afflicts you, there is no doubt that you must be very ill.

Bernardo Pérez SalazarVariations on the thoughts of a shaman about nature and human purpose

A Historical Review of Prohibition in Colombia:  The following review proposes some of the landmarks of how Prohibition changed the course of Colombia’s history. Hopefully these analyses, documents and proposals will help us to better see how we have come to the conflict and corruption we are now immersed in and, by so doing, bring light to a way back to normalizing drugs and thus, to attaining peace with plants and drugs.  Man's attempts at banning Master Plants, such as coca, has had devastating effect on Colombia's natural legacy; as proven by the devastating environmental impact of 35 years of aerial spraying, and more recently (2016 and on) through backpack manual spraying, to try to eradicate coca by means of the same agrochemicals used to increase coca-crops productivity.

Collapsible item 1   Drug use by the Pre-Columbian Peoples

  1. Antonio Escohotado: Chemical Euphoria and Human Dignity “Prohibition might be considered “the greatest moral experiment of our time”, as F.D.Roosevelt stated in 1932. But banishing drugs from human life is, in fact, a war against self-induced euphoria, and also a war against chemistry and human invention. Such an enterprise was born in the USA, and has been exported by this country at the very same rhythm in which it became the world's superpower. The effect of this American crusade is identical to the general effect of crusades, and especially of the crusade against witchcraft: aggravating to unheard extremes a hypothetical evil, justifiying the destruction and plundering of countless persons, promoting the ill-gotten wealth of corrupt inquisitors, and creating a prosperous black market for all the forbidden items -which in the seventeenth century were sorcerer's concoctions, and today are heroin, cocaine, crack, etc., Opening lecture for a multi-disciplinary conference held at the Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco, 18 October, 1996

  2. Charles Q. Choi Drugs Found in Hair of Ancient Andean Mummies, "The first hard evidence of psychoactive drug use in the ancient Andes has been discovered in mummies' hair, a new study says. […] The finding confirms that predecessors of the Inca known as the Tiwanaku used mind-altering substances, and hints that the civilization relied on far-reaching trade networks to obtain the drugs."National Geographic News, [Octobre 27, 2008]

  3. H. Barrie Fairley: "Anesthaesia in the Inca Empire" / La “anestesia” en el imperio incaico "The Incas did not have written systems and the chronicles say little regarding their surgeries and make not mention whatsoever of  how they reduced the pain suffered through these surgeries. Chances are that they hade developed some form of anaesthesia. Some of the plants they had which produced central effects include, among others, maize (which they used to prepare by different means an alcoholic beverage, the chicha), datura, espingo or hawthorn, tobacco, the San Pedro Cactus and Coca . The Incas used chicha to put the patients to sleep for minor surgeries … datura, espingo, tobacco and the San Pedro Cactus can be used to induce a deep trance and most likely served as anaesthetics. There is evidence to the fact that datura was used as a partial or full anaesthetic, The Incas chewed coca leaves with lime and swallowed the juice.  By so doing, they could work long hours without food and drink . Currently indigenous communities in Perú hold that coca numbs the mouth but, even in the 19th Century, it was a known fact that coca leaves applied to wounds helpsto alleviate the pain. It is possible to deduce that the Incas used chicha, probably combined with some other narcotic, to attain partial of full anaesthesia for their surgeries. A coca-leaf concoction might have bee used as topical anaesthesia. , Rev. Esp. Anestesiol. Reanim. 2007; 54: 556-562 [2007]

  4. Fernando García: "Drug Use by the Pre-Culumbian Peoples -Elements for an Alternative Crimminal Policy" / El consumo de drogas en los pueblos precolombinos –Elementos para una “política criminal” alternativa: "It is highly likely that the greatest number of psychoactive substance in the world were to be found in Indigenous America where a great variety of plants and even animal secretions were used by way of inhaling, eating , drinking and  enemas. [Cornejo 1991] […] However age-old this practice might have been, at Columbus’s arrival in America, this practice was widespread throughout practically all of the peoples and cultures in pre-Columbian America. […] The Rio Bravo Region is the zone where the use of these psychoactive substances has been particularly studied. […] There, in what is today known as Mexico…, dozens of cultures developed. In general, all of these cultures used vegetable products capable of generating some form or mind alteration. The most widely-known today are two stimulants which at one point were of a sacred nature which has currently become profane and are nowadays treated as mere commodities. […] Chocolate, originally from Mexico, is one of these substances. […] Tobacco, also currently known and used worldwide and also originally from America, is the second of these substances.” Profesor de Criminología Universidad Andrés Bello y Profesor de Derecho Penal Universidad de la República, Santiago de Chile  Revista Electrónica de Ciencia Penal y Criminología, Reflexiones, July 21, 2002    

  5. Collapsilbe item 2 The Colonial Period

  6. [ref to 1493] Víctor Hugo Cano Bedoya: "Approach for a New National Drug Policy" Aproximación a una nueva Política Nacional de Drogas: "It would appear that the first known written testimony on the use of psychoactive substances in America was narrated by Christopher Columbus, who in 1493 refers to the healers in La Española island who snorted up their noses a powder called cohoba (a famous brand of fin Habana cigars, Cohiba, are named after this ancient powder) which gave them visions, they could diagnose illnesses and foresee future events. In 1499 Américo Vespucio, when he visited the Guajira Peninsula, saw some native with their mouths full of a green plant and a white flour.  (Pérez, 1988) […] Regarding the origin f Coca, for example, writers agree on the fact that its use dates back to before the colonial period, and that artefacts such as handicrafts, sculptures, tombs and goldwork evidence the use of psychoactive substances with objects such as mortars, pipes, tiny spoons and poporos (lime gourds).  For example, in the culture developed in San Agustin, sculptures with circular protuberances under their cheeks are frequently to be found. […] It seems fairly obvious that, prior to what is known as the discovery, native populations already consumed coca, tobacco, chica, yagé , among other substances, and these were imbued with mythical and ritual values. Prior to the Spaniards arrival, the use of the products did not constitute a social problem, since it was restricted to special occasions and means of ingestion (orally).”  Psicólogo Universidad de San Buenaventura, Medellín (USB), Operador Centro de  Investigación y Atención al Farmacodependiente (CIAF) , 2007 

  7. [Colonial times] Thomas Szasz:  Our Right to Drugs, The Case for a Free Market : "From the founding of the American Colonies until the Civil War, marijuana was an important cash crop, yielding the raw materials needed for the production of canvas, clothing, and rope. The colonists, including George Washington, grew marijuana. Of course that is not what they called it. They called it "hemp," just as they called their Negro slaves "three-fifths Persons." Though few people realize that the Constitution so stamps some of the people who built our country, at least those who do realize it understand how such fictitiously fractional persons became real, full-fledged human beings. But how many people know that hemp, coca, and the opium poppy are ordinary plants, understand how they became transformed into dreaded "dangerous drugs," and realize that in losing our rights to them we have surrendered some of our most basic rights to property?" , 1992

  8. Collapsible item 3 The history of cocaine

  9. [ref to 1883] Annemarie Bos The History of Licit Cocaine in the Netherlands: "In 1833 ... coca plants were introduced in the Dutch East Indies and 3 years later commercial planting started. The coca introduced in the Dutch East Indies was another species than the one that was grown in South America and initially it was difficult to extract cocaine from these leaves. However in the 1890s the German company Farbwerke developed a new extraction method especially for Java coca. This new but difficult process resulted in a substantial increase in the yield of cocaine from Java cocaand soon it exceeded the supply from South American coca by almost twice the output. Until 1900, the sole customer for leaves of Java was this German company, which had the exclusive patent for the processing of Java coca into cocaine. The monopoly enabled the company Farbwerke to keep prices ofcoca leaves low."De Economist 154, NO. 4, 2006

  10. [1844]  "The chief active ingredient in coca leaves, the alkaloid cocaine, was isolated in pure form in 1844. Little use was made of it in Europe, however, until 1883, when a German army physician, Dr. Theodor Aschenbrandt, secured a supply of pure cocaine from the pharmaceutical firm of Merck and issued it to Bavarian soldiers during their autumn maneuvers. He reported beneficial effects on their ability to endure fatigue” in  Schaffer Drug Library Cocaine 

  11. [1858 ref a] En Sandro Calvani, “La Coca pasado y presente mitos y realidades”: Javier Mendoza Pizarro "The True History of the Discovery of Cocaine" /: La verdadera historia del descubrimiento de la cocaína. "Much like the Andean world has a rich mythology regarding the coca leaf which is expressed through legends and traditions regarding its origin, use and traits, the Western world has developed its own mythology on the product f its own making; cocaine […] ‘Enrico Pizzi is the Adam who first tried the forbidden fruit from the coca tree’ Nonetheless, history occurred in a more complex manner. In the mid 19th century, an Italian pharmacist, Enrico Pizzi, settled in La Paz. Pizzi was in charge of the Bolivian Pharmacy and Drugstore which went on t become one of the most important pharmacies at the time.  An issue of the Gaceta Oficial de La Paz published on June 30, 1858 contains an article whose title was “Cocaine: new organic-vegetable base” . In this article, the pharmacist announces that he has managed to isolate the basic active principle in the coca leaf.  Simply abiding by the labeling proposed by modern chemists for plants’ immediate principles, he called this new substance cocaine, short for coca, vegetable from which it was obtained. […] He then goes on to describe the substance in detail: ‘cocaine is coca’s active and salified principle. It appears as an amorphous mass, made up of microscopic semitransparent cubic crystals. In its pure state it is totally white, unalterable by air and its organoleptic properties are reminiscent of its origin. […]He even describes its two classic saline combinations: ‘cocaine sulfate crystallizes into white, satin-like and fragile waters and its hydrochloride into superficially cubic and transparent layers…’[…] Pizzi, like several foreigners of his time who had observed the effects of coca use, considered that the leaves had important therapeutic virtues.  In his article he mentions some of the se beneficial qualities and informs that his recently-discovered cocaine could serve as an invaluable advantage for the country and towards the pain suffered by humanity.” Ediciones Aurora, 2007

  12. [1859] "En 1859, Nieman descubrió el principio activo de las hojas de coca, al cual le dió el nombre de cocaína, a pesar de que, de hecho, el descubrimiento de este alcaloide debe ser atributido a Gardeke quien lo habia aislado en 1855 bajo el nombre de Erythroxyline". [Mariani Coca and its therapeutic application (p. 29) , 1890]

  13. Collapsible item 7  Coca a Commodity  1860-1890

  14. [1860-1950 ref a] Paul Gootenberg "La subida y caída de la coca y la cocaína 1860-1950/"The Rise and Demise of Coca and Cocaine 1860-1950".This paper treats coca and cocaine as essentially export “commodities” rather than menacing drugs.This commodity perspective makes perfect sense for the period at hand, 1860-1950, from the yearsAndean coca-leaf first hit world markets to the beginnings oftoday’s circuits of illicit cocaine. Duringthis intervening century both were still seen as legitimate or even progressive articles of commerce.Taking coca and cocaine as goods--rather than singularly spiritual or pariah substances--may alsotemper some of the passionate thinking (and policies) that surround these Andean products today." Preliminary Paper Conference on “Latin America and Global Trade” Social Science History Institute, Stanford University November 16-17 2001   

  15. [1870 ref to] After Moreno and Maiz, Dr. Gazeau in 1870 studied the stimulating effects of coca on nutrition and found that it increased the pulse and respiration, assisted digestion, increased urinary excretion, and strengthened the nervous system. This author arrived at the conclusion that coca prolongs life and promotes muscular energy. He advises its use, locally, for stomatitis, gingivitis, aphthous ulceration, and generally for painful and difficult digestion, gastric disturbances in phthisis and also for obesity. (Note. It should be remarked that Coca in Colombia has historically been given in infusions to children for stomach cramps and other).  (Mariani)  

  16. [1884 ref to] B. Raymond Fink : The Introduction of Local Anesthesia,: "Koller was the one who, in 1884, realized and demonstrated the ability of cocaine to produce surgical local anesthesia. This landmark in humanity's long struggle against pain was one of the most important medical discoveries of the nineteenth century, or any century, and missed winning the Nobel Prize only because I it was made a little too soon, and too convincingly (Liljestrand,G.:Actaphysiol.scand.Suppl299,1967], p.5).

  17. [1890] Angelo Mariani Coca and its therapeutic application  But should coca be regarded as merely a masticatory?  And must we accept as irrevocable the decision of certain therapists? : “Cocaine worthless, coca a superfluous drug?”, New York 1890

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  20. Collapsible item 10 Variations ....

  21. Bernardo Pérez SalazarVariations on the thoughts of a shaman about nature and human purpose "A shaman speaks his mind before officials who threaten to eradicate illegal coca crops in Colombia. Sustainability has to do with values, which cannot be dealt with as scientific or legalistic “truths”. It is a matter of learning how to manage our needs and aspirations in order to expand the possibilities of human development. […] What to do with nature is something to be contested in the public’s mind. Even in the face of depletion of the goods and services that flow from present stocks of natural assets, technology implicitly supports the belief that it brings safe and sustainable satisfaction of needs and aspirations. Yet a world of unlimited possibilities is a tricky appeal. It may lead us to reduce —not increase— the asset base which future generations will inherit. […]The trap lies in the idea of “optimal substitutability”. It increases the value of the capital stock available for income generation and is considered at present as an optimal path for accumulating assets. Yet it is possible that in the future, people may find other human potentials to be developed, not necessarily based on more abundant and perfected goods. If so, optimal substitution may no longer be an optimal accumulation path for coming geneeations. Technology in the future may allow people to reverse depletion. But it will be at a cost to those generations upon whom today’s values and parameters are being imposed.  MamaCoca [2003]

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