Pubdate: Sun, 25 Jun 2006
Source: Stabroek News (Guyana)
Copyright: 2006 Stabroek News
Author: Ghk Lull


Dear Editor,

I found SN's editorial (24.6.06) titled 'Demand and supply' to be
interesting, but leaning more towards the supply side and the European
segment of the drug markets.

Today, I take a look at the demand side and the American market,
because that is where the core of the problem resides.

US containment programmes for the most part exhibit a misplaced
emphasis - perhaps deliberate - on the supply side of the drug equation.

An emphasis that inures to the uninterrupted benefit of the American
consumer trapped in a chemical thrall.

At this point, it is helpful to profile this protected demand class to
better understand the ongoing pursuit of a failed strategy, and
possible reasons for refusal to change direction.

Drug merchants direct their products to generally Western
destinations, but constantly seek ways to infiltrate and maintain a
presence in the US. Gaining access and a foothold there is the
narcotics equivalent of entry into the fabled China market for regular

The American consumer is overwhelmingly white, and extends across a
social spectrum that includes Hollywood, Wall Street and suburbia.

In reality, vast enclaves of wealth, power, and influence populated by
good people who will pay good money for good drugs.

Their offices, schools, bars, and clubs can be secret (sometimes open
air) bazaars of narcotics commerce. Their social gatherings are
boringly sober without the action of hard drugs. This is the demand
set in action, with the not so stealthy line of traffic away from the
socializing at hand that leads to a hit; with the familiar reek
through the elevator shafts of workplace buildings; and with the
comforting presence of the mostly Black deliveryman at the
neighbourhood bar or park or mall or school.

It is because of these good folks that the suppliers are

Folks who will fly on ecstasy, methadone, glue, prescription drugs, or
pain killers, among other cravings of the times.

They will not be denied; not the experimenter, the recreational user,
the chronic abuser, or the helplessly addicted.

This is what the external, frontline wars on drugs seek to

It is a constituency with its immeasurable burning, churning, gut
wrenching, mind numbing, socially decaying desire-nay, insistent
demand-for daily salvation by the dose.

Try stopping their German sedans, and they are a Japanese cell-phone
call away from a pricey American legal mouthpiece to run the gauntlet
of appearance, interference, pleading, and dealing for a slap on the
Swiss Rolex, and release to the relief of a jolt of Andean lightning.

This is a look at the American demand side, as partially embodied in
more than seventy per cent Caucasian users, a significant segment of
whom are broadly affluent and influential. Hence the social and
political will to confront this inner problem is noticeably lacking,
which leads to the farce of a war on drugs; a wasted war and obviously

So, the American strategists turn outward, and away from the problem,
by targeting suppliers from Latin America and Asia. In terms of the
latter, this means the overlapping and competing conglomerates from
the Golden Triangle, Indo-China, South-east Asia, and Asia Minor. The
American consumer must be protected from his self-indulgent ways and
from corrupting foreign influences, which leads to the bombing of
laboratories, pressuring of governments, and incarceration of
shippers. Think of this: A man can become a convicted and jailed felon
for being in possession of an illegal AK-47 or Uzi, and in the process
there is no thought of bombing the manufacturers. However, in the case
of possession and use of illegal drugs, the exact opposite is practised.

Once again, I point to the composition of the users on the demand

Not surprisingly, other than the occasional huge bust, most of the
supply lines - and new ones - remain open for business.

On the other hand, more prison doors close shut on the burgeoning
population of minority pushers caught taking care of their paleface
clientele; such are the fortunes of this pretence at war. And while we
are at it, let us not forget that the ever growing breed of anonymous
Guyanese deportees who have been punished and banished for providing
succour. In turn, the deportees bring their baggage and bag of tricks
for nefarious endeavours on the local scene.

It should be clear by now that any way the drug business or trade is
viewed, somebody gets officially sanctioned and hurt. And prominent by
their absence from the passing parade of scoundrels are the users.

I believe that targeting the supply chain has its positives, but it
cannot be so blind that it almost totally ignores and deny the demand
side. If the demand side was a predominantly 'coloured issue' it would
have been a jail issue.

The order of the day would have been short, sweet, and simple: Lock
up, police records, impugned reputations, job lockouts, even credit
and housing restrictions. In sum, the user would be better off without
a life. Given such circumstances, dwindling demand would lead to
dealers using their own product, or giving it away. From a Guyanese
perspective, the good part of lower demand is less deportees, fewer
super successful businessmen, no suspect crime fighters.

All we would have left is the perennial grass root issue of political
strife, which is more than enough for us.

In a nutshell, all the programmes and slogans, and the wars and
targets will only be successful if there are complemented with
meaningful and consistent action de-signed as deterrents on the demand
side of the drug scourge. It has not been seriously attempted before.

Why not now? The by products of such a strategic reversal and
redirection would be felt all the way to little Guyana in ways big,
small and lasting.

Yours faithfully,

GHK Lall
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake