In 2009 we showed you how Evo Morales, President of Bolivia, chewed a Coca-leaf at the UN headquarter in an effort to convince the Commission to „correct a historical error” – delete those parts of the Single Convention that aim to eliminate coca chewing in the Andes. When we saw that he was going to speak this year at the opening plenary we knew that he will repeat his performance – but we did not expect that he will even upgrade it! He was not chewing Coca but he presented a couple of other industrial Coca-products beside the leaf itself: tea, beverage, food. The public show was much appreciated and applauded by government delegates who rarely see anything else than the boring CND standard-speeches on endless lists of police seizures and the need for coordinated actions to tackle the world drug problem blabla. Some distinguished delegates almost pissed themself laughing at the story on how Morales cured his own stomach ache with Coca-tea.
Morales is showing his Coca-leaf to journalists
Mr. Fedotov, the head of UNODC
Morales declared that Bolivia will withdraw from the Single Convention and reenter with a reservation on Coca-leaf. He emphasized that this will not mean Bolivia is giving up the fight against cocaine: half of his speech was detailing the successes and needs of the country to combat trafficking. Bolivia will not be the first country to sign the Convention with a reservation – but the 35th, among them you can find the United States.
And here we are: the United States. The White House was represented by Gil Kerlikowske, head of the ONDCP, who made a surprisingly self-critical speech. He acknowledged that the US bears some responsibility for the excessive focus on incarceration, after advocating for 'tough on drugs' policies all over the world. But the Obama-administration is about to change this. They recognize drug addiction as a brain disease (well, and what about the recreational, non-problematic forms of drug use?) and they provide treatment instead of incarceration. He defended the drug conventions though: he said it is not because of the conventions that governments fail to provide prevention and treatment for people in need. His government strongly opposes the rewriting of the convention and the legalization of drugs. He referred to legal prescription drug abuse as evidence that legalization is not the answer. Well, not the best argument to refer to an unregulated grey-market. But to whom this message was addressed? For sure not to Morales and not to Occupy-hippies – but to those Latin-American leaders who are taking the lead in the struggle for drug policy reform. The US warns its Southern neighbors: don’t mess with us! This message means that the prospect of substantial drug policy reform seriously concerns US politicians.
The Russian drug czar thinks big
It concerns the Russians too. Mr. Ivanov, the Russian drug czar paid a visit to Latin-America recently and offered his help for its governments to combat drug trafficking together. As Lyubov Lyulko, a journalist at pravda.ru point out in his bright article, this is more than a courtesy visit. „Viktor Ivanov thinks big, and he is not among the pessimists who believe that it is impossible to combat drug trafficking.” Indeed not. He succesfully advocated his Rainbow-2 plan to eradicate opium in Afghanistan. And do you know with whom he invented the plan? With Pino Arlacchi, the former head of UNODC, a fierce drug warrior, who led the 1998 General Assembly under the slogan „A Drug-Free World: We Can Do It” but later had to resign due to a corruption scandal. Ivanov does not seem to care about corruption but allied himself with Arlacchi, now an Italian MP, to make a drug-free world a reality.
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Make no mistake: there is much more at stake here than mere idealism. Ivanov is a realist, in his own way. I don’t think he really believes in a drug-free world but he believes in restoring the power of the Russian Empire. Now, when the US seems to be loosing its enthusiasm in the global war on drugs, the Russians are trying to take over the leadership. Fedotov’s appointment as UNODC director was an important step in this global chess game. If you read David Musto’s book, The American Disease, you will find out how drug war propaganda served as a tool for the US to increase its influence in international politics. The US organized a conference at The Hague 100 years ago for the same reasons Ivanov is advocating his Rainbow-2 plan now: to have more power in international politics. In this fight he gets all support he needs from Putin, his agency is already much bigger than the DEA.
In his speech at the plenary of the CND he focused on Afghanistan but he could not hide his imperial ambitions - not if he really cares to hide... He criticized NATO for withdrawing its troops and giving control to local security forces, he called for a renewed leadership to bring peace (and Russian investors of course!) to Afghanistan. His plan is to create an international agency on Afghan development and security issues, probably with Russian leadership of course. He think there is an effective way to abolish opium-economy in the country: to set up Russian pipelines and get Russian gas companies to give jobs to Afghan opium-farmers. Such a philantropy, isn't it?
Posted by Peter Sarosi