Tuesday, December 16, 2003


I've been subscribing to the Liafax eBulletin for almost a year now and had the distinct pleasure of hearing its Editor in Chief, Marco Perduca speak at the DPA conference last month. Marco is also the Executive Director of the International Anti-Prohibitionist League, an organization on the forefront of bringing some semblence of reason into the UN Conventions on drugs.

I had a charming email exchange with Marco today over an item in the newsletter and discovered they are still collecting signatures on their appeal to the UN. I just checked the numbers and I'm appalled that there are only 9434 confirmed signatures on this petition. For those of you who haven't signed, please take a moment to do so now.


Back in this hemisphere, I also met Maria Mercedes Moreno of Colombia in Newark last month. She is a relentless advocate for human rights not only in her own country but across the globe. She sends this appeal from Mama Coca:

We have never sent out mails for signatures but this is an extreme situation and we need as many signatures as possible to demand a halt aerial fumigation with chemical mixtures being applied against Colombian peasants and indigenous communities. This request will be sent to the OAS Inter American Human Rights Court and the Colombian State Council, among others.

There's only 254 signatures so far, so please support this petition now. You'll find yourself in good company on this list of signators that includes Gustavo De Greiff and Marco Perduca. Please take a moment and sign here and pass the link on. The site also offers a long list of linked information on fumigation issues.


Ben Masel checked in this week and sends this link from the Asia Times, on the continuing explosion of poppy cultivation in Afghanistan. The page takes a long time to load even with broadband but it's worth the wait for an excellent report from folks actually on the ground in that country.

BANGALORE - The spurt in violence in Afghanistan in recent months has generally been attributed to the resurgence of the Taliban and al-Qaeda. However, aid workers in Afghanistan are saying that it is warlords with connections to the production and trade of narcotics who are behind many of the attacks.

The sharp rise in killings, say aid workers, coincides with the autumn harvest of the poppy crop....

Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the UN anti-narcotics program notes, "There is a palpable risk that Afghanistan will again turn into a failed state, this time in the hands of drug cartels and narco-terrorists." The article goes on to say,

So serious is the threat posed by poppy cultivation and trafficking that a recent UN Security Council mission to Afghanistan cited drug trafficking alongside terrorism and factional warfare as the triple threats slowing down the reconstruction process in that country.

It begs the question why is the US allowing this to happen when they so vigorously pursue fumigation policies in South America? Here's one answer.

A report in the German newspaper Der Spiegel draws attention to "an open secret", which throws light on why action is not taken against the narcotics network. "Even the topmost member of the central government," it says, "is deeply mixed up in the drug trade." Describing the situation in the Kunduz province, where German soldiers of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization-led (NATO) International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) have been deployed, the report says that Afghan Defense Minister Mohammed Fahim's power in this part of Afghanistan "is in large part supported by drug money. Up to now, his commanders have been regulating the opium trade within their spheres of influence. It's their primary source of revenue. Anyone who interferes with the trade in their districts lives dangerously.

There is growing pressure on the ISAF to act against the drug trafficking. But that, ISAF commanders are quick to point out, is not possible as it is not part of their mandate.

...Governments back home in the NATO countries are reluctant to get their soldiers drawn into tackling drug trafficking as this would make the troops targets of the all-powerful drug syndicates. Therefore, even if they come on a field of poppy or an opium warehouse, the troops are under instructions not to act against it. "The troops have orders to look the other way. Orders from on high," reports Der Spiegel, adding, "An open confrontation with the drug lords would be like a declaration of war."

I guess now that we have our pipeline secure there, the welfare of the people we 'set free' from the Taliban aren't much of a concern anymore.


I can't let this day pass without sending my sister a big hug and a wish for a very happy birthday. Hope you get to take the day off and have some fun Sis and if you're feeling a little depressed about the advancing age thing, just remember you'll always be younger than me.


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