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Mama Coca is the commencement of a process born out of the need to react against widespread escalation of the War on Drugs as of the Plan Colombia and its corollary, the Andean Regional Initiative. This space for debate was founded out of the conviction that one of the main obstacles to identifying and finding solutions to the American Region's contradictions is the lack of true debate regarding a diagnosis which defines all of the region's problems in terms of narcotics. The moralist focus given to drug policies has been at the root of misguided information and has made drug policies refractory to any and all critical analyses. Consequently, Mama Coca defines itself as a site that seeks in-depth and scrupulously thought out studies on regional affairs, namely, the key issues that determine the American Hemisphere's social, economic and political relations, starting with fact-founded assessments of antinarcotics policies. Accordingly, Mama Coca partakes in the efforts of those who advocate for a dialogue which might allow for more humane drug policies that address harm reduction for consumers.

The Plan Colombia is a clear-cut example of how a complex social situation has been increasingly reduced to an issue of military proportions where the daily life and future of the American Region and its inhabitants is defined on the basis of a series of naive and simplistic policies centered on eradicating what has become known as illicit crops. This unending monologue is undoubtedly the gist of the problem as evidenced by the lack of deliberation and transparency which marks this plan, and by the fact that the Plan Colombia's design and implementation was not put before Congress nor the instances created by the Colombian 1991 Constitution to foster citizen participation in the nation's present and destiny. This unilateral approach is furthermore manifest in the failure to take into consideration the region's fragile social, environmental, economic and political balance.

 Mama Coca wishes to propose encompassing and critical appraisals of the region's complexity from divers perspectives. By critical we wish to signify —not only what is colloquially understood as the search for apparent faults and contradictions— but that which aims at making the assumptions, hypotheses and conditions of each approach into an integral part of the analysis. Mama Coca is an effort at highlighting the diverse histories and diverging situations which are buried under a discourse which homogenously criminalizes one and all; to link global analyses with field studies and the local communities' proposals which are based on practical experience. To begin with, the goal is to compile, correlate and divulge information on the territories where crops such as marihuana, coca and poppy are grown, on those who grow these crops, what their lives and perspectives are, and on the significance of these crops within the scope of their overall problems.

 Mama Coca convenes a virtual think-tank in various senses. On the one hand, it is not an institutional initiative but the convergence of a diverse group of citizens who have gradually knit ties. It is a result of the rebusque (the search for survival) made possible by the goodwill and dynamic activity of the many people and organizations which have enthusiastically joined their efforts and collaborated through messages, contacts, information, articles and all. On the other hand, Mama Coca seeks to internationalize a critical analysis of the situation, just as military policies of the drugs issue have been internationalized. Accordingly, contents insofar as possible, have been translated into three languages and have attempted to address, in a thorough and responsible manner, "headline issues" which are often dealt with only as news thanks to the enormous amounts and speed of information available today. We are aware of the obstacle which the factual analysis of current-affairs supposes for scholars and it is for this reason that we propose Gonzalo Sánchez's call to intellectual engagement. Professor Sánchez is the person to whom this endeavor Mama Coca owes its initial encouragement.

For our first issue we have sought to launch the debate from exactly the same angle focused on by those who have designed regional policies, which preponderantly omit insights other than those related to drugs. In the section “Global Analyses” we have included a series of articles which represent the panorama proposed by some of the region's social scientists regarding the post Cold-War relationship between the United States and Latin America. In the section "Field-Work Studies on Crops" we have included direct research based on the experiences of those regions where crops used for illicit purposes are grown and which have been increasingly subjected to fumigation and other military counternarcotics policies. In the section "Local Proposals", we hope to highlight the efforts made by local communities to find feasible and sustainable solutions, as in the case of the wise proposal by the Calderas Cabildo (indigenous council) and the practical endeavor presented by the Governor of the department of the Putumayo. The above series of articles undoubtedly serves as an ideal framework for analyzing the Plan Colombia in the section "Observatory of the Plan Colombia", where we include divers papers which cover the origins of this plan, its focus and rhetoric. Most importantly, we are launching —together with many other organizations and individuals— an appeal against the Biological War which is threatening the Andean Region, its peoples and rich waters and biodiversity. Lastly, the bibliography on Drugs and Conflict is a basic tool for which we would like to recieve suggestions and references: mamacoca@mamacoca.org

It is furthermore important that we make known what we wish to express with the name Mama Coca: to bring to mind those local universes which have been historically denied and which are now criminalized as of exogenous regards and the lack of knowledge which permeates the diagnosis and categories used by those who are called upon to propose policies and solutions.

María Mercedes Moreno 
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