The following text is a Working Paper for the 2002 candidacy
to the presidency of Colombia :
Presidential candidate Lucho Garzón has clearly expressed
his views on the drugs issue. These include, among others, demands to ban
chemical fumigations and to cease hostilities against peasant and indigenous
communities and other forced eradication strategies under the consideration
that all of these measures ensue in Human Rights violations. As stated
in his “Government Program”, Lucho considers that "Counterdrug policies
should be redesigned to focus on health and public education, to abandon
current prohibitionist repression, and to launch a scientific and political
debate regarding legalization alternatives at the national and international
According to Lucho’s proposals ¾apart
from addressing harm reduction for those who suffer from abuse of chemical
substances and from demand control policies¾
crop-growing countries must stop incriminating and waging war against
their peasants. Harm reduction in the case of drug abuse and depenalization
of consumption must go hand in hand with the decriminalization of growers
of natural plants used to extract illicit chemical substances and a halt
to forced eradication of their crops.
Colombia lacks autonomous policies to address its particular circumstances
while, at an international level, the terms of “shared responsibility”
need to be redefined and legitimate law enforcement should be redirected
to focus on narcotics trafficking finances, the chemical precursors trade,
and money laundering havens.
Clearly, the search for global and productive alternatives to
drug abuse requires structural economic and social measures, namely, democratic
policies such as agrarian reform, territorial organization and employment.
Frente Social y Político- Luis Eduardo Garzón
Colombian Presidential candidate 2002
Narcotics Traffic and Counterdrug Strategies
The drug issue involves two basic aspects which are closely linked:
Considering the aforementioned and, in the search for an alternative proposal
which would distinguish between the different components of the drug circuit,
we suggest three basic levels of analysis so as to have a clearer grasp
of the issues involved and of the means to address them. To sum it up graphically:
The first aspect is the illegal drug economy which has three basic
components, firstly, production of illicit crops and processing of raw
materials for the world market; secondly, trafficking, which not only includes
drug exports but also related activities such as money laundering ¾probably
the most significant aspect as concerns the illegal economy¾
and lastly, drug abuse and consumption-related issues.
The second aspect involved refers to antidrug policies founded on
the prohibitionist paradigm which serves to design public policies. Colombian
antidrug policies are closely tied to its bilateral agenda with the United
States. The “narcotization” of the bilateral agenda ¾aggravated
by its import on other issues shared with Washington¾
has meant Colombia’s total loss of autonomy in dealing with the drug issue
as drug management has become an instrument for negotiating other strategic
topics of government interest.
DISTINCTIONS BETWEEN BASIC LEVELS OF THE DRUG CIRCUIT AND ADAPTED
|Links in the illegal drug circuit
||Levels of nationwide state management
||Government instances in charge
||Autonomy with cooperative criteria
||Environment, Agriculture and Development authorities
||Technical Cooperation for Development
|Processing and traffic
||Law Enforcement (legitimate application of rule
||International shared-responsibility agreements
||Attorney General, Police, Judiciary, Financial
Control, and Narcotics Directory
||Shared information systems, money laundering
repression agreements, forfeiture consultancy, judicial cooperation,
|Abuse and consumption related issues
||Autonomy with cooperative criteria
||Health Authorities and Mayors Offices
||Information sharing regarding experiences in
addressing drug abuse
Drugs and Autonomy
The proposed distinctions show that there are two areas where it is feasible
to design more autonomous policies:
Taking up partial crop substitution proposals under policies which do not
address the global issue and the distinct levels of this circuit, including
trafficking, is a self-defeating undertaking doomed to repeat the failures
of the past and present paradigm which places the emphasis on reducing
drug supply. A comprehensive proposal should contemplate policies geared
towards harm reduction based on the following criteria:
In the field of production, namely, crops used for illicit purposes.
In the area of abuse and consumption-related issues.
Drugs cannot be “eradicated”. Society should aim at addressing the complexity
and diversity of the drug scenarios, including law enforcement, while achieving
an inevitable coexistence, where the harm for those involved with these
products ¾growers and consumers¾
Both drug production and abuse generally answer to social, economic and
cultural conditions which vary from one region and country to the other.
The drug traffic, on the other hand, ¾of
an international nature¾ takes advantage
of all of these scenarios, stimulates both ends and keeps the profits in
the hands of the great “legal” and illegal fortunes of the globalized world.
It is therefore highly unfeasible that by focusing on producer regions,
where the problem is intimately related to structural deficiencies, we
can solve such a complex, global and conflict-ridden situation.
One-crop farming dependence on coca, poppy and marihuana generates a series
of problems for these regions such as social, economic and environmental
instability which endangers: food sources, proper use of biodiversity,
indigenous communities’ social and cultural heritage, settlement processes
in the Amazon and other frontier territories; not to mention the fact that
producers are unfairly made the target of this indefensible war.
The fact that the armed groups are partially responsible for the existence
and control of crops used for illicit purposes within the framework of
a war which is in part sustained by these resources makes their role in
the search for solutions particularly important. These solutions should,
naturally, be designed in accordance with the obligations which have been
agreed to as of peace negotiations, and accompanied by the duties assumed
by the state.
a. Production : Alternative
Proposals to dependence on monoculture of crops used for illicit purposes.
This proposal is to be framed within social and economic development programs
at a regional level. In other words, the impact of wide-ranging rural and
environmental development policies will serve as the framework for decision
making beyond the sole consideration of “substituting” crops used for illicit
purposes by legal productive activities.
Circumscribing the way the problem is addressed to ¨projects¨
and their funding (as has been the case up to now) is not by any means
an appropriate management principle if not laid down within a framework
of prior strategic definitions of the drug issue and the need to design
policies of a national nature.
As refers to production, this policy focuses on :
Concerted alternative development strategies. These would be designed in
agreement with the communities involved and implemented through gradual
substitution measures as of tailored investments which consider the rational
use, management and organization of these territories in accordance with
environmental protection requirements
Decriminalization of small crop growers.
Agreements with armed actors. A solution to the drug problem in our country
as of a redefinition of the peace process to include the autonomous participation
of the communities involved in this economic process.
The assurance that peace, personal safety, human rights and international
humanitarian law will be respected in the implementation of this policy
in the territories involved in this economic process.
b. Traffic and Processing
The basic criterion is:
A drug policy for Colombia which would incorporate international co-responsibility
concepts and practices.
On the basis of autonomous definitions both as concerns production and
consumption-related issues, we recognize the fact that narcotics trafficking
is a problem of international scope and that, as such, international co-responsibility
policies and agreements are required to address this issue with other than
the current distorted management being given to the issue.
The international community should set itself a certain number of goals
regarding the following aspects:
Chemical precursors exports
Adequate monitoring of synthetic drug laboratories.
Addressing the issue of illegal economic activities tied to narcotics traffic
resources in the countries of the North, namely, international prostitution
networks, slave trade, gambling activities which serve as cover up for
these illegal drug trafficking economies.
Forfeiture policies for assets acquired through drug trafficking
Institutional reforms designed to target drug trafficking, mainly as concerns:
As of these sure and tangible agreements on the part of the international
community, Colombia would develop the goals to be fulfilled insofar as
production is concerned, autonomously addressing this aspect.
The judicial system
Control agencies and the establishment of clear-cut and consistent roles
c. Consumption Related Problems
Translated by María Mercedes Moreno, Mama Coca
Reformulating this aspect as pertaining to the realm of Colombia’s health
Addressing the issue first and foremost from a harm reduction perspective
both as concerns drugs themselves and the policies designed to deal with
the drug phenomenon.
Redesigning institutions along criteria according to which, drug abuse
issues and management should be the responsibility of health authorities
and should not fall within the scope of repression. This focus should be
applied both at municipal and nationwide administrative levels.
Developing legal and institutional approaches towards decriminalizing personal
doses and drug use. Legal precedents ¾such
as the 1994 Constitutional Court ruling regarding personal consumption¾
should be followed up on by adapting the pertinent institutions and designing
adequate public policies.
The current state of affairs is one of an extremely alarming lack of organization
where different assignments and instances overlap due to the inexistence
of a coherent policy stipulating the corresponding responsibilities.
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