ENCOD BULLETIN ON DRUG POLICIES IN EUROPE
NR 72 FEBRUARY 2011
THE WESTERN DRUG IMPERIALISM
We live in an age where drugs that are produced in Western countries are allowed, while drugs that are originating from non-Western countries are forbidden. Alcohol is publicized as a great drug all over the world, while publicity and marketing campaigns for tobacco make everyone forget that lung cancer is one of the most important causes of drug-related death.
Health has never had anything to do with drug policies. Western countries have been able to design global drug legislation in such a way that only their drugs should be legal and drugs from different cultures should be forbidden. The Western drug alcohol caused great disasters in America, where local communities were completely destroyed by “fire water”. Many became addicted, kept drinking all day, but authorities never decided to control or prohibit this drug. One and a half centuries ago, the British fought two opium wars to oblige China to consume opium from their colonies in India.
These days, drugs are prohibited following an economic imperative, which is to limit the supply and increase the price. Criminal organisations know very well how to take advantage of these policies.
This month we were confronted with the news that several Western countries have objected to the proposal by the Bolivian government to end the ban on traditional coca leaf consumption. These countries are afraid that if Bolivian people are allowed to chew coca leaves, they will have no reason anymore to eradicate coca fields. But why don`t they persecute the industries that produce chemicals like potassium permanganate or other substances that are fundamental to obtain cocaine from the coca leaf? Because these industries are based in the Western world, and they don`t want them to lose money and create further unemployment.
The attack on the coca leaf is an act of racism and disrespect for cultural traditions, beliefs and religion. Western countries would understand this if they would see their wine or tobacco fields being fumigated by foreign countries.
When drugs became forbidden this policy appeared to be a way to control criminal minds. But as long as there is demand there will be supply, and as soon as prohibition appears some wise guys analyze the situation and find a way to make a profit.
Today, Western countries present themselves as victims of drug producing countries and drug dealers who have been able to jump the strong walls and sell drugs to innocent people. But the truth is very different.
Western countries have created the UN conventions. They are responsible for the fact that drug producing countries violate the human rights of their citizens, after having suffered pressures from Western countries for not doing more to stop the export of drugs. They are responsible for the “cultural genocide”, the attempts to destroy the millennial coca leaf culture, making people believe that it is easier to persecute an ancient culture in South America than to allow the Euro-american chemical enterprises loose money!
Maybe it’s time for us activists to stop fighting for a particular substance and fight for a “New Drug Culture”. We could claim to belong to a new tribe that is a minority in this world, but that exists in all countries of this planet, a tribe not connected by religious or economic interests, a tribe driven by the culture of idealism and certainly very different from the majority, but a tribe that believes in its own life style and will fight for it!
By Jorge Roque (with the help of Peter Webster)