30 Jan 2009

Who benefits from the global trade in drugs?

I am in the south looking north, in Latin America, in Colombia. The disconnect is acute. The biggest event of the day? The appearance of the Mexican and Colombian presidents at Davos.

No, don’t think Davos rocks here in the Andean foothills, on the rolling desert along the coast. But Latino presidents on the world stage, that’s a rarity – and the people here know it. Not that the north will notice these guys. Yet these presidents are at the heart of the most devastating economic and physical war, centred on drugs.

Damn Colombia for her domination of the cocaine trade: well over half of the world’s supply. It’s easy. But damn us in the west for our vast superstructure of abuse, cash, crime, rooted in this trade. Ha, that’s easy!

So here we are amid one of the most undiscussed crises in the world: the vast global trade in drugs. And let’s chuck Afghanistan in for good measure. In whose interests is it for this trade to continue? Certainly not just the little coca farmers of Colombia. Theirs is a subsistence life. Blame the harvesters and industrial manufacturers, yes. But who is running the thing in our own countries? Who is compromised?

That’s why coming to Colombia is worth it. Sure, it’s a thrill to meet Jaime, the brother of Garcia Marquez. But the real thing is to seep inside the woodwork of Colombian thinking. For them, too, this drug thing is beyond massive.

OK. That’s off my chest. I shall return to it, no doubt. I’m off for some politics and literature. I’ll be blogging again later.

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