Coca farmers should be identified as drug traffickers / Coca farmers only grow coca to satisfy traditional indigenous uses
It is in the social realm that the attitudes surrounding coca sometimes find their most intransigent expressions, with extreme positions underpinned by deeply ingrained cultural prejudice. Some say "coca farmers should be identified as drug traffickers", others, "coca farmers only grow coca to satisfy traditional indigeous uses"Further reading: Coca Myths, Drugs & Conflict Debate Papers 17, June 2009
The use of coca is symptomatic of hunger and malnutrition / Coca is a solution to the world’s hunger problem
While for some people, “the use of coca is symptomatic of hunger and malnutrition”, others state the opposite saying that “coca is a solution to the world’s hunger problem”. It has long been common among superficial observers to confuse the use of coca with an inadequate diet, and thus to claim that coca is in some specific sense responsible for malnutrition among the Andean population. At the opposite extreme, there exists an increasingly vocal lobby, which defends the use of coca not so much as a stimulant, but as a food supplement, and sometimes engages in extravagant claims regarding coca’s dietary benefits.
Cocaine can easily be extracted from coca leaves / Coca leaves contain no cocaine
To some people, “cocaine can easily be extracted from coca leaves”, to others, "coca leaves contain no cocaine". The extreme positions in this discussion have an even longer and more ideologically charged genealogy than those in the coca and nutrition debate.
The use of coca produces a form of drug dependence / The use of coca will cure dependence on cocaine and crack
To some people, “the use of coca produces a form of drug dependence”, to others “the use of coca will cure dependence on cocaine and crack”. And, like a Peruvian expert added ironically in 1952, there is a third position, that of the members of the UN who maintain that it is not an addiction, but should be treated as such since it is a pernicious habit. The absence of scientific backing did not prevent the WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence from ruling twice, in 1952 and 1953, that coca chewing should indeed be considered a form of “cocainism”.
Coca cultivation is devastating the rainforest / Coca is an ideal crop for poor soils in the tropics and will be cultivated everywhere once declared legal
Since at least the 1980s, there has been a consistent effort to link the growing of coca with widespread environmental degradation, baptized recently by the Colombian government as “ecocide”. Others state that "coca is an ideal crop for poor soils in the tropics".
Obama's Cairo speech shifted the discourse, away from justifying reckless imperial hubris, unilateralism and militarism and towards a more cooperative and potentially even internationalist approach. It is the task of people across the US to mobilise and turn that new language into new policies.
With a new President in the White House there’s a fresh approach to climate change and energy policy in the US. But the Energy bill currently going through Congress is based on the widely-criticised “Cap & Trade” system and has been weakened further by a massive corporate lobbying campaign. How does this feed into the UN talks in Bonn in June which prepare the way for the critical meeting in Copenhagen in December?
Unless we tackle issues of equity, public accountability and corporate control, it remains difficult to see how even a green new deal, however worthy the intention, will not end up throwing good money after bad