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March 2009
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Don’t tease me!

The Guardian (UK) has an article (that joins dozens I’ve seen around the world recently) questioning the continuance of the drug war as it has existed. Cocaine production surge unleashes wave of violence in Latin America

Almost all those interviewed agreed that insatiable demand for cocaine in Europe and north America had thwarted US-led efforts to choke supply and inflicted enormous damage on Latin America.
“We consider the war on drugs a failure because the objectives have never been achieved,” said Csar Gaviria, Colombia’s former president and co-chair of the Latin American Commission on Drugs and Democracy.
“Prohibitionist policies based on eradication, interdiction and criminalisation have not yielded the expected results. We are today farther than ever from the goal of eradicating drugs.”
The commission is urging a “paradigm shift” from repression to a public health approach, including decriminalisation of marijuana. Dismal statistics about coca cultivation, cocaine exports and murder rates have amplified calls to replace a policy which dates back to Nixon with one which focuses on curbing demand.
“The strategy of the US here, in Colombia and Peru was to attack the raw material and it has not worked,” said Colonel Ren Sanabria, head of Bolivia’s anti-narcotic police force.
A report by the Brookings Institution, and a separate study by Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron which was endorsed by 500 economists, have joined the chorus demanding change.

This is so encouraging to read in major newspapers.
Of course, there were the usual voices of those who profit from the drug war (like Uribe) calling for a continuation of what they are now calling the “not winning, but not losing” war policy.
Then the article ends with:

A recent report by the Government Accountability Office concluded the war had failed in Colombia. It was commissioned by Joe Biden, then a senator, now the vice president.
A spokesman for the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which spearheads Washington’s approach, hinted the new administration may switch tack.

And… And?….
Don’t leave me hanging like that. Switch tack to what? Is that all? That’s potentially big news, if true.

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