South America is seeing some seismic changes in the ways its leaders are looking at the ongoing war on drugs. Last year we saw various leaders express their frustration that their countries are being ripped apart by violence from organised drug gangs as the main drugs consumer, the USA, was doing absolutely nothing to reduce its demand for drugs.
Salt was then rubbed into the political wounds when the USA itself legalised cannabis use in Colorado and Washington whilst US diplomats continued to urge South American leaders to continue to ‘maintain a hard line’ and fight the drug barons in a battle which costs hundreds of thousands of lives each year and has scarred a generation of South Americans with economic and social wounds. Not surprisingly the South American leaders are now looking at alternatives and wish to set their own agenda.
A few days ago the Organisation of American States (‘OAS’ - a coalition of North and South American nations) issued an unprecedented report. Hardly any mainstream media channels reported the event. For the first time a collective organisation of different countries are openly looking at, considering and recommending that the war on drugs is replaced with a new approach which would legalise, regulate and control supply.
Above, Juan Manuel Santos, President of Colombia and José Miguel Insulza, OAS Secretary General with their controversial report.
Amazingly, the report was free from political interference and censorship. Times are changing in South America and political leaders all over the world are waking up to the inconvenient truth that it may be their generation which will be forced to create an exit strategy for the war on drugs, a war which only ever benefitted the criminal drugs gangs. Political leaders can comfort themselves with the knowledge that prohibition of drug use never reduced consumption anyway, it merely gifts control and (tax free) profits to organised crime. In South America drugs-related crime is the biggest threat to a peaceful society, with the drug barons often becoming the richest and most violent members of society. In all cases the drug gangs now enjoy better funding than the police and military who can no longer keep up with them.
The activists in South America are doing their part, pressurising their leaders and taking part in high profile protests. In Uruguay the Government is considering becoming the official grower and distributor of pot. It isn’t such a crazy idea, the only losers would be organised crime. Responsible adult cannabis users across South America have used their recent ‘Million Man Marijuana March’ events to show their support for change.
In Chile tens of thousands marched recently to demand that the Chilean Government starts taking responsibility for better cannabis laws. Estimates varied, but around 50,000 people in Santiago (Chile’s capital) took to the streets, some estimates put that number as high as 200,000.
The Chile march was there to remind politicians that their November Presidential elections will require candidates to face up to the issue and present some credible policies and ideas. Any Chilean politicians that have ambiguous views on drugs debate better watch out; Chilean activists have put the drugs debate firmly on the political agenda and have demanded a response from their political representatives. Maybe we will see more of this pressure in Europe.
Could it be South American politicians that pioneer controversial new plans to legalise cannabis and other drugs? We hope so, because that would put even more pressure on the USA. And where the USA leads on drugs policy the rest of the world usually follows.
We will keep you updated on the South American situation. With so much political momentum it looks like 2013 will see continued progress on the international drugs debate. We leave you with a few pictures from the successful Chile marijuana march, one of the two main sponsors was ‘Casa Verde’ a Dutch Passion representative and a vocal supporter of Chilean activists. Our main representative, Delaferia, was also present and a great stoner day out was enjoyed by all.
Dutch Passion wish continued success and support to all activists campaigning for an end to the futile prohibition of cannabis. Prohibition does not have long left.
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May 31st 2013