Pubdate: Sat, 12 May 2001
Source: Otago Daily Times (New Zealand)
Copyright: Allied Press Limited, 2001
Author: Barry White


Colombian President Andrew Pastrana ( ODT, 26.4.01) claims that recent
movies showing the futility of the war on drugs do not reflect
reality, and yet the real-life shooting down of a plane containing a
missionary family under the misconception that they were drug
smugglers ( ODT, 23.4.01 and 24.1.01) would have fitted seamlessly
into the plot of the film Traffic . The fact that a United States
surveillance plane played a part in the deaths of United States'
citizens adds a further twist of irony.

Mr Pastrana also claims that the war on drugs is needed to combat his
country's brutal drug lords before he contradicts himself by pointing
out that, like the Mafia, the drug lords are a product of prohibition.
A more plausible explanation for his stance is the $3 billion military
aid package that his government recently received from the United
States to help them fight the Marxist rebels who control the
"frontier" lands where the cocoa is grown. Despite Mr Pastrana's
claims that his plan is for peace and not war, neighbouring countries
are fearful that Colombia's civil war will escalate and cross their

There are also historical precedents to show Mr Pastrana the folly of
a drug war. In 1253AD all of the cannabis plants in Cairo were
destroyed by the army. This simply shifted hashish production to
farming areas around the city. Further purges caused production to
move further afield. After 140 years of this war on drugs, the
consumption of hashish has increased.

Barry White, Northeast Valley
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