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Irony at its Best or Worst: Or a Sense of Responsibility?


Thursday, November 20th, 2008 Irony at its Best or Worst: Or a Sense of Responsibility?

As reported in the Independent (19 11 08) by Jerome Taylor, the Vice President of Columbia has an important message for the British middle class drug user. He states “every time you consume one gram of cocaine, you are destroying 4.4 square metres of Colombian rainforest.”

The opiate is a designer drug specifically for the affluent
. A tonne of the “white stuff” is consumed each week in this country alone.

As a global community we do need to be concerned. However, taking a very cynical approach. the issue of Columbian cocaine is not a recent phenomena and there does appear to be vast amounts of monies made. One can question the motives in this case.

Notwithstanding, Colombia is the world’s largest supplier of cocaine, its government has been locked in a 35-year war with the drug producers, supported by weapons and dollars from the United States. But it has had little success in its fight against this multibillion-dollar industry.

But in the rainforests of Colombia, cocaine tells a different story. Take the Tayrona National Park, a tract of virgin rainforest in the north of the country ringed by deserted beaches, aquamarine waters and the towering peaks of the Sierra Nevada Santa Maria.

Very worrying is the fact that there are 3,000 deaths per annum in relation to the cocaine trade. More significantly fighting between government forces and the drug makers has displaced 300,000 Colombians – creating one of the world’s worst internal refugee problems.

Survival International, which supports tribal people around the world, is worried that a number of indigenous tribes within the Amazon region have been forced to flee their forest as drug producers push deeper in, seeking to avoid government troops. The Nukak-Maku tribe, for example, lives in the eastern Amazon and was not exposed to outsiders until 1988; over the next decade the Nukak population halved to less than 500 and those who remain have had to flee the fighting.

The vice president Mr Calderon also argues that the environmental toll is equally shocking. On top of the vast tracts of rainforest that are destroyed to make way for coca fields millions of tonnes of herbicides and fertilisers are washed into Colombia’s rivers.

Factual information is as such that according to US statistics 150kg of solid chemicals and 250 litres of liquid chemicals are used to develop just one hectare of coca plant. Coca leaves must also be soaked in solvents, such as acetone, to release their psychotropic qualities and each year 20 million litres of acetone, 13 million litres of gasoline and 81,000 litres of sulphuric acid are disposed of untreated in Colombia’s rainforest, which produces 15 per cent of the world’s oxygen.

These are very worrying times and with that in mind governments, communities and the public should work together for a better future.

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