Pubdate: Fri, 29 Aug 2003
Source: Free Lance-Star, The (VA)
Copyright: 2003 The Free Lance-Star
Author: Mercedes Paz-Carty
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


I was distressed by the report of recent Bolivian government massacres
["In Bolivia, the drug war heats up," Aug. 18].

The account was sensitive and unbiased and not surprising to me. As a
Bolivian, I know Aimaran and Quechuan peasants are blamed for all
ills. President Sánchez de Lozada was not raised in Bolivia, and has
little insight into the miserable condition of rural farmers.

According to reports, President Sánchez, pressed by American
Ambassador David Greenlee, changed his position on the legal coca-leaf
cultivation in the Chapare region, initiating warlike massacres
against coca growers and organizations protecting human rights.

Sánchez's claims of providing farmers with other crop options were
red herrings, not viable solutions, resulting in thousands of farmers
without livelihoods.

Europeans and Americans in Bolivia started illegal production of
cocaine, creating this monster. Stanley Schrager's statement in the
article infuriated me. He claimed that the farmers' plea of need to
feed their children was a myth. The peasants bear "some
responsibility" for "ruined lives" in the United States, he said.

I wonder whether Schrager, former director of the narcotics section at
the U.S. embassy in La Paz, accepts "some responsibility" for those
"ruined lives," due to ineffectual security in U.S. ports and
inconspicuously protected criminal organizations in the drug trade who
manage to outsmart federal security.

The myth is the belief that we are fighting the war on drugs, but the
monster is taking over.

The only solution, as I see it, is the legalization of some drugs. If
the huge profit disappeared, drug business would not appeal to
organized crime. It is ratio-nal, clear and simple. Let's have the
courage to deal with our own dragons.

Mercedes Paz-Carty

- ---
MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin