A forum on “Solutions to the Problem of Illicit Drugs”, calling for increased social investment to gradually replace the economic reality surrounding narcotic trafficking, production and consumption in Colombia, concluded Thursday in Bogota.
With more the 1,200 in attendances, the forum which was organized by the United Nations and the Universidad Nacional of Colombia, collected a wide cross section of Colombian society affected by the long standing problems associated with its history as a producer, exporter, and more recently, consumer of illicit drugs.
The forum included representative from organizations, businesses, political parties, activists, and other engaged members of Colombian society whose proposals will be forwarded to negotiators engaged in peace talks between the Colombian government and the country’s largest rebel group, the FARC.
According to rural news agency Prensa Rural, the forum attendees and moderators included a number of representatives from indigenous, campesino, and Afro-Colombians populations who were forceful in their condemnation of the government policies to combat drugs problems in their regions of the country.
In many cases the representatives claimed that instead of being a solution, the war against drugs has become an obstacle to the development of autonomous and participatory democratic infrastructure in the regions most affected by the trafficking and consumption of drugs.
According to UN peace monitor Alejo Vargas Velasquez, the universities moderators concluded, although yet to formalized in writing, that the talks centered on, “strong criticisms of fumigation,” and a call for policies that better account for “regional diversity.”
According to Prensa Rural, the National University moderators recognized the following positions: increased respect for rural campesino, indigenous and Afro-Colombian territory; an end to fumigation policies aimed at destroying coca crops; the legalization of coca, marijuana and opium poppy; investment and development in rural communities affected by drug trade; among other policy recommendations.
From Bogota, the forum will move to the south to conclude in the southeast department of Guaviare, one of the regions most affected by illicit drug production, trafficking and consumption.
A document summarizing the arguments presented in the forum will be delivered as a recommendation to government and rebel peace negotiators in Havana, Cuba next month. If and when the government and the FARC reached agreement on the rebels’ political participation, they will move on to the FARC’s involvement in Colombia’s drug trade.
- Organizadores destacan resultados de primera etapa de Foro sobre drogas ilícitas (Caracol Radio)
- Foro nacional sobre drogas ilícitas concluye este jueves en Colombia (Tele Sur TV)
- Sí a la erradicación, pero del modelo neoliberal (Agencia Prensa Rural)