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Antiwar Demonstrators Protest US Aid To Colombia (03-24-01)

A News Analysis By Terence T. Gorski

Summary:  About 100 American anti-war activists from Witness for peace demonstrated against U.S. Military Aide to Columbiaís Drug War.  In a demonstration reminiscent of Viet Nam the protestors asserted that Plan Columbia funding would be better spent in funding addiction treatment programs within the united States.  The War On Drugs and supply reduction programs like Plan Columbia are draining critical funds from community-based addiction and mental health programs that are proven to be more effective in reducing illicit drug abuse.

On March 22, 2001 the Associated Press reported that about 100 American anti-war activists demonstrated in front of the US Embassy in BogotŠ, Columbia to protest against U.S. military assistance to Colombia to fight the drug war.  In a manner reminiscent of Viet Nam antiwar protests.  Witness for Peace staged the demonstration to oppose the U.S.-backed military counter narcotics offensive against cocaine-production in Columbia.  Witness for Peace recently began deploying volunteers to Colombia's war zones to report on rights violations, the flight of refugees and effects of Washington's military assistance. 

Officials in Washington and BogotŠ say the U.S. aid provided by Plan Columbia is needed to try to wipe out drug trafficking from Colombia, which produces most of the world's cocaine and much of its heroin, and from which illegal armed groups earn huge profits.  

Critics of Plan Columbia believe the military aide has more to do with exerting US military influence in South America than reducing drug addiction in the United States.  Many military advisors oppose Plan Columbia because they believe that it will result in growing political and military entanglements that could very well lead to human rights violations and atrocities similar to those that occurred in Viet Nam.

Addiction professional should be concerned about the current war on drug policy.  While giving lip service to the need for treatment, only 12% of the current war on drug funding is devoted to treatment while supply reduction which fund expanded police, military, and prison expansion programs receive the majority of funds.

There are better alternatives to providing billions of dollars in military aide to a Columbian Government with a questionable civil rights record.  A recent Rand Corporation study indicated that supply reduction through third world crop eradication is of the least cost effective ways of lowering addiction.  The best investment, according to the Rand Study, is to invest in treatment which has been proven to be effective in lowering the demand for drugs.

Addiction and Mental Health Professionals need realize that the war on drugs and its emphasis on enforcement, long-term incarceration, rising prison populations, and third world paramilitary ventures is draining valuable resources from community-based treatment efforts.  As a result addicted people, their families, and their communities are sufferring.  If the War on Drugs continues to divert dollars from addiction, mental health, and social programs, treatment budgets will continue to shrink while we build more prisons and engage in a foreign policy that exports war and violence in the name of treating drug addiction.

This nation would be better served by financing a Public Health Addiction Policy that seeks to prevent and treat addiction rather than a War On Drugs Policy that uses military and police force coupled with incarceration of addicted people to manage the nationís drug problem.

On the Net: Witness for Peace Columbia

                  View Gorskiís Slide Show On Public Health Addiction Policy

 

 

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