Pubdate: Tue, 20 Feb 2001
Source: Montreal Gazette (CN QU)
Section: Editorial / Op-Ed, Pg B2
Copyright: 2001 The Gazette, a division of Southam Inc.
Author: Robert Sharpe


The U.S.-funded Plan Colombia could very well spread both civil war and 
coca production throughout the region (Gazette, Feb. 9, "Coke and gunpowder").

Communist guerrilla movements do not originate in a vacuum. U.S. tax 
dollars would be better spent addressing the underlying causes of civil 
strife rather than applying overwhelming military force to attack the 
symptoms.  Forcing Colombia's FARC guerrillas to the bargaining table at 
gunpoint will not remedy Colombia's societal inequities.

The United States is not doing the Colombian people any favours by funding 
civil war.

Nor are Americans being protected against drugs. Cut off the flow of 
cocaine and domestic methamphetamine production will boom to meet the 
demand for cocaine-like drugs.

Rather than waste resources attempting to overcome immutable laws of supply 
and demand, policy-makers should look to the lessons learned from the 
disastrous experiment with alcohol prohibition. The drug war finances 
organized crime, while failing miserably at preventing use.

With organized crime comes corruption. The former commander of U.S. 
anti-drug operations in Colombia was found guilty of laundering the profits 
of his wife's heroin-smuggling operation. Entire countries have been 
destabilized because of the corrupting influence of organized-crime groups 
that profit from the illegal drug trade. Drug laws fuel corruption and 
violence, which are then used to justify increased drug-war spending.

It's time to end this madness and start treating all substance abuse, legal 
or otherwise, as the public-health problem it is.

Robert Sharpe
Program Officer
The Lindesmith Centre - Drug Policy Foundation
Washington, D.C.
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