In yesterday’s Crikey Bernard Keane’s comment — that Colombian president Alvaro Uribe will be lining up with our own unlamented ex-PM for a presidential gong “in recognition of his country’s extraordinary commitment” to providing American consumers with high quality marching powder — is a long way from the truth.

Commenting on the fight against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and other such groups Uribe said, “if not for illicit drugs we would have defeated these groups long ago.”

And in a recent article on Colombia in Vanity Fair Maureen Orth wrote: “I will never forget President Betancur telling me in an interview in Bogota in 1981, before cocaine really took hold, ‘We would not have these problems if you [Americans] were not such excellent clients.'”

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In fact the drug war in Colombia is, like similar drug wars in other locations, a wonderful example of one group funding both sides of the battle. American taxpayers fund the “war on drugs,” American consumers fund the drug lords.

A paragraph on the home page of the Platypus Hostel (the owner likes Australians) in Bogota sums up the attitude of many Colombians to their drug problem:

If you’re thinking about using cocaine during your stay in Colombia, we hope you will consider your decision carefully. You can learn about the drug and its health effects at Wikipedia and see a video showing how it’s produced here.

The production of cocaine also significantly damages the environment of Colombia. And money spent on cocaine goes directly to support groups fighting in Colombia’s internal conflict, leading to assassinations, massacres and one of the world’s largest refugee problems. This conflict is excellently summarized in this Reuters report.

If not for your own well-being, we would encourage you to refrain from supporting violence against the Colombian people by purchasing cocaine.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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