Tuesday, August 7, 2012

What Will It Take To Get Your Attention


I'm sitting here in a room enjoying the breeze on an American summer afternoon. It's delicious. Sheltered. Forgiving of my mistakes, my outbursts, my opinions. My gender, my history, my studies, my aspirations, hopes dreams wishes thoughts.

And still. We have something to disagree about. (well, maybe a few things)

I'm reading piles of histories, testimonies and accounts of Colombia from the 1980s, 90s and 2000s. The hardest part is reading about things that happened within my lifetime. And now. When I know I'll go back to school and the same rules about drug laws will be preached, but the same users will keep using. And frequently. With complete disregard to the market, where it came from, the blood on their hands between lines of cocaine.

When people preach about college they say, try new things. Explore. #YOLO right?

When did we stop thinking about the consequences of our actions? When did pop stars, politicians, journalists, TV personalities tell us to try everything once, and forget about the rest sometimes. When did the price tag attached to those actions, what it costs other people and other places much more than we can imagine... just fade away? When did drugs become so sexy that we can ignore the bloodied hands they came from? The communities they destroy along the way?

Thank you for your purchase.

You have now funded: ammunition for a guerilla army occupying southern Colombia. A hit man to take out a politician speaking out against drug violence or a journalist providing accurate coverage of the violence. You've given a paramilitary group money to fund dirty politicians who will keep corrupting the government's efforts for peace. Pick one. Do you want any of these on your hands?

I watched a grown man cry on a journalist's footage of the violence and occupation of rural towns plagued by extortionist practices of these armed groups. He will live in fear each day for the rest of his life, while he waits to see who is next.

And while the coca grows in South America... THE PROCESSING CHEMICALS COME FROM THE UNITED STATES. And Europe. The two markets bankrolling this process and ensuring that visitors to cities like Medellin need to go through 3 or more military check points and interrogations wherever they go near the city.

The irony is that the students who use will be in their quiet apartments or at a party. Safe, controlled spaces where the most they have to worry about are the police busting their event.

Imagine the alternative and what production ACTUALLY looks like. Imagine fearing for the future of your children to the point that you would willingly send them away to live with strangers. You probably cant, if you are someone I just described.

I have a personal soft spot for conservative cocaine users. Rich upperclass students with access to disposable income who believe in everything the Republican party pushes, including the war on drugs, all while keeping a steady supply of cocaine in their possession. If this isnt corruption, I'm not sure what else is. Yes, end the supply. Get rid of the sellers in South America... they say. Yet...

The day we started ignoring the reality of where are drugs come from and the consequences of our actions is the day that truly lost sight of our supposed desire for "peace" in the western hemisphere.

To those students I mentioned earlier: It's not about you. Your hour long experience of drug induced haze is not worth this. And if you had to stand before these people affected by your decision and watch what the reality of this trade looks like, you wouldnt make the decisions you are at present.

To the US: Stop hiding the truth behind your political speeches claiming everything in Colombia is cleaned up, and saying that Latin America is the source of all these problems. Without a market, there wouldnt be the same degree of production, economic growth and promise that comes with this trade.

To my readers: Keep yourselves informed, but with a grain of salt. The media in the US takes one angle, and other countries will present themselves in the best light that they can as well. Only by reading and talking to as many people as possible (carefully) will you understand the extent of the consequences we face from our decisions right now.

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