Many myths surround coca. Every day press accounts around the world use the word coca in their headlines, when in fact they refer to cocaine. TNI's Drugs and Democracy Team exposes the myths and reality surrounding the coca leaf.
The coca leaf has been chewed and brewed for tea for centuries in the Andean region – and does not cause any harm and is probably beneficial to human health. Yet the leaf is treated as if it is comparable to cocaine or heroin. The inclusion of the coca leaf in the list of narcotic drugs raises questions about the logic behind the current system of classification under the UN conventions. TNI believes we can find a more culturally sensitive approach to plants with psychoactive or mildly stimulant properties, and should distinguish more between problematic, recreational and traditional uses of psychoactive substances.
TNI’s work is in the news almost every working day of the year. Together with our partners, we enjoy wide coverage in national and international news outlets from around the world. Here are some of the highlights from 2020 of which we are particularly proud.
Getting to the Briceño region in the heart of Antioquia requires an excellent vehicle, and a lot of time and luck. The week before our journey there in mid-July, heavy rains wiped out part of the road between Briceño and Pueblo Nuevo, stranding folks on one side or the other. We were lucky on the day of our journey – no rain. But it took a six-hour drive to get from Medellín to Briceño, and another three hours of sometimes harrowing curves to Pueblo Nuevo. The dirt-road drive itself was a stark reminder of the challenges Colombia faces as it seeks to eliminate 50,000 hectares of coca this year through the crop substitution program, Programa Nacional Integral de Sustitución de Cultivos de Uso Ilícito (National Comprehensive Program for the Substitution of Illicit Crops), known by the acronym PNIS.
Land politics – who controls what land, how is it used, for how long, for what purposes and to whose benefit – is a central pillar of this debate. As politicians across Europe struggle to balance the urgent need for climate action with the need to strengthen equity and popular support for new policies, the risk of societal discord looms large, fuelled by farmer protests, perceptions of ‘agri-bashing,’ and long-running tensions between conservation movements and agricultural communities. This has been made more complicated by the interweaving of questions of land and national identity and an apparently increasing disconnect between those living in rural and urban areas.
Political impasse continues in Myanmar. Peace talks and general elections have failed to achieve national breakthroughs. All parties — both domestic and international — need to reflect on this failure. Civil society networks and representative governance must be strengthened at the community level if peace and democracy are to be built.
The incorporation of labour, environmental and sustainable development provisions in the EU’s free trade agreements (FTA) has been much debated. But are the overall objectives of these FTAs truly compatible with a meaningful approach to labour rights, environmental protection and sustainable development? If not, what are these provisions actually doing?
Bertha Zúñiga Cáceres talks about how her mother's example and a belief that ancestors continue to accompany our struggles helps her and the indigenous movement in Honduras to continue to mobilise against injustice, state violence and corporate abuses.
The government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) recently introduced a set of bills decriminalising cannabisfor medical and scientific purposes. Amid heated debates surrounding the future of cannabis policy in SVG and the wider region, traditional cannabis grower Junior Spirit Cottle shares his insights on the subject through the following opinion piece, which was published by a local newspaper The News on 7 December 2018. An active participant of both the Barcelona and Heemskerk Global Forum of Producers of Prohibited Plants, Spirit has also been part of TNI’s Advocacy Fellowship for Farmers Leaders.
Katie Sandwell, Angélica Castañeda Flores, Lyda Fernanda Forero, Jennifer Franco, Sofia Monsalve Suárez, Andrea Nuila, Philip Seufert
10 December 2019
We urgently need new, revitalised, visions of human rights, and rural communities are in the process of building just these kinds of visions. The climate crisis poses massive threats to human rights, but so do mainstream technical and economic climate ‘solutions’, and rising authoritarian voices around the world. The battle for resources and territories, including land, water, fisheries, and forests is becoming increasingly intense, with land-intensive renewable energy projects and the drive to marketise carbon and biodiversity additional threats to nature and to the livelihoods of rural and indigenous people around the world.
Concerns are deepening in the Kachin and Shan States as the government seeks to close internal displacement camps while conflict continues and the coronavirus is still spreading. War-shattered communities face a highly uncertain future. This commentary reports on a new initiative by civil society organisations to ensure that the human rights and security of IDPs are protected. But without peace and political reform, there are many worries that the crisis will only continue.
BRICS countries’ investors play an increasingly crucial role in land investments. Just as the global trend of increased interest and investment in land has led to a surge of land grabbing, BRICS investments have proved no different.
The Andean Council of Coca Leaf Growers (CAPHC), which groups together men and women coca growers from Bolivia, Colombia and Peru, met in Puno May 17-18, 1998, to analyze the situation of our people, put a distance between ourselves and the anti-drug policies currently being implemented and propose alternatives that need to be put in practice at the grassroots, demanded from the Andean governments in office today and proposed to the international community.
The recent report ‘The Netherlands and Synthetic Drugs: An Inconvenient Truth’ argues for increasing resources to expand anti-drug efforts in the Netherlands. In a topical opinion piece, Tom Blickman addresses the crucial issues at hand.