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Human Rights and Global Drug Policy

I wrote this essay for my application for a human rights fellowship to fund my fall internship with the Drug Policy Alliance. I didn’t get the funding, but I’m sharing this essay as a proponent for new approaches to drug policy based on public health and…

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The War on Drugs is a War on People

The War on Drugs is a War on People

I’m proud to join the ranks of contributors to the Witness for Peace Drug War Blog Series, publishing daily bilingual posts for the entire month of March. Check out my new piece on the xenophobic, racist roots of U.S.…

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Coca eradication and the globalized U.S. War on DrugsView Post

Coca eradication and the globalized U.S. War on Drugs

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Happenings since we left Colombia

In the month since I’ve returned…

  • An assassination attempt was made on Catholic priest and human rights defender Padre Alberto Franco, one of our delegation’s most beloved partners.
  • A women’s association of pineapple growers in the Putumayo department…

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Members of the group snacking on mango juice cookies made with coca flour in Popyan, Colombia. The cookies are topped with quinoa (the white grains on top). They tasted a little like ginger cookies, and had no effect on us (other than making us feel full).

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Traditional Uses of Coca (the cocaine plant)

Indigenous people and campesinos in Colombia have been toasting and chewing cocaine leaves for thousands of years. Toasting the leaves removes the alkaloids necessary to create cocaine, and the toasted leaves can be used medicinally to:

  1. To create an anesthetic
  2. To relieve altitude sickness
  3. To reduce hunger
  4. Mild stimulant (with less caffeine than coffee)

So, the question remains, why is coca illegal, in Colombia and the US?

The sign reads, “Products derived from coca leaves,” and includes toasted leaves, a mixed flour, joint relief, moisturizing lotion, and cookies.

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"El momento de crisis es el momento de la opportunidad.
(The moment of crisis is a moment of opportunity.)"

— Padre Alberto, Comision Intereclesial de Justicia y Paz

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In a journal entry dated January 6, 2013, I wrote:

"Today we learned:

  • Colombia has the 2nd highest number of internally displaced people (after Sudan).
  • Colombia is the 3rd largest recipient of US foreign aid (after Israel and Egypt)
  • There are 3 million displaced people in Colombia, out of a total population of 44 million.”

-Hillary

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"Internal displacement," the cost of living and doing business on land rich in natural resources

“Internal displacement,” the cost of living and doing business on land rich in natural resources

Colombia’s population of internally displaced people has now surpassed the Sudan to become the largest in the world. (3.9 to 5.3 million at year end 2011, 65 percent under 25 years old).[1]Displacement, or forced migration, has multiple interacting…

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"Congressman Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.), who chaired the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere for the past four years, says the U.S.-supported crackdown on Mexican cartels only left them “stronger and more violent.”"

— Martha Mendoza, writer for the Associated Press, “US Military Expands its Drug War in Latin America