Pubdate: Tue, 27 Aug 2002
Source: The Monitor (TX)
Copyright: 2002 The Monitor
Author: Robert Sharpe


To the editor:

Your Aug. 13 editorial on Colombia was right on target ("Chaos in Colombia: 
U.S. actions not helping to end violence"). Not only is our government 
turning a blind eye to paramilitary human rights violations, but a very 
real environmental threat is being ignored. In an effort to eradicate coca 
plants, toxic herbicides are sprayed from above, hitting water supplies, 
staple crops and people. The aerial eradication campaign drives peasants 
further into the Amazon basin, which in turn leads to more rainforest 

Colombia's civil war is essentially a nationwide turf battle over drug 
prohibition's inflated profits. The various armed factions waging civil war 
in Colombia are financially dependent on the U.S. drug war. For the same 
reasons alcohol prohibition failed, the drug war has been doomed from the 

Cut off the flow of cocaine and domestic methamphetamine production will 
boom to meet the demand for cocaine-like drugs. Thanks to past successes at 
eradicating marijuana in Latin America, the corresponding increase in 
domestic cultivation has made marijuana America's No. 1 cash crop.

Eradicating plants abroad and building prisons at home is not going to make 
America "drug-free." Instead of wasting scarce resources waging a punitive 
drug war, we should be funding cost-effective drug treatment. Prison cells 
are hardly ideal health interventions. Drug abuse is bad, but the drug war 
is worse.

Robert Sharpe

Drug Policy Alliance

Washington, D.C. 
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