1971 – Fifty years ago, President Nixon declared the War on Drugs that’s still got us counting the bodies.

By Ricardo Silva Romero, EL TIEMPO, June 17, 2021


(Translated by Eunice Gibson, CSN Volunteer Translator)

All wars will have their détante, all of them, except for the wars going on here. After the horror, the wreckage remains, the reverberations, but here the horror is followed by more horror. These days, between the repressions, the re-issued battles, and the murders of eighteen social leaders and four signers of the Peace Agreement, a person doesn’t know which bereavement to grieve. You stay still, away from everything, thinking why do these impossible things happen to us again and again: why was the brilliant Junior Jein murdered after he rapped “the first thing they say when they kill us is ‘they were mixed up in some freaky stuff’”; why did they kill Don Raúl Carvajal, the father of the soldier who refused to commit ‘false positives’, after fifteen years of appealing for justice from nothing at all—from the government—in his model ‘73 truck; and why, the attack on the battalion in Cúcuta, “Mama, they’re attacking us”, if this hell is going to continue.

If in the middle of the bleeding out of ex-President Uribe, who epitomizes a country within the country, keeps on skewering any kind of peace process that doesn’t include surrender, even if it’s his own. If the historic river of protests isn’t pushing the political class to carry out meaningful democracy. If the administration that we have, that has now been isolating us for three years, while looking askance at us, while resuscitating for us the enemies from the beginning of the century, both from within and from without, there seems to be no interest in converting the appeals into reforms. If it keeps on challenging the Colombians that are left behind, in “the countryside” and “the outsiders”, every time they appoint Ambassadors or Ministers—as if there were no political class, but rather an assembly—of the same redundant bureaucrats and the same phony champions.

Who will care that the Minister of Science has been accused of plagiarism, if other people don’t matter?

Who will care about government violence if the standard hasn’t been to defend democracy, but just to defend power?

Colombia’s wars don’t end, because all of their causes are still going on: Colombians keep on killing Colombians, like frustrated shadow-boxers and fanatics from centuries gone by, manipulated by the political strategies of the ambitious who are living on the inequities, by the guardians of the inequalities under the law and the equalities outside of it. We know, in short, why this violence exists, but it isn’t clear what it’s for—it isn’t clear why we go back to the horror to learn how to negotiate it, to live with it and include it—because the war is far from ending: fifty years ago, on June 17, 1971, then-President Nixon declared the War on Drugs, which has had us counting the dead and calling our “frontiers” “corridors”; and the leader here or there who will be capable of decreeing its end has not yet been born.

Eight days ago, while ex-President Santos was begging pardon for the “Vietnam doctrine” that led to the “false positives”—and that forced Don Raúl to park his old age in Bolívar Plaza–, it was obvious that everything that was needed for the gringo leaders and their creole counterparts to apologize for having been tucked into that War on Drugs, a war that not only makes it impossible to erase the causes of our conflict, but also finances the sociopaths that are trying to sabotage the complete and screaming resistance that is going on. In these days of murders of people who defend all of us, and attacks on soldiers here and there, it was clear this this was not the administration, which loves the smell of glyphosate in the morning, and celebrates the reduction of the coca and denies the increase in cocaine, is not the one that will clear the way either for decriminalization or for the political recognition of those it has abandoned.

And we will have to count the days, with the hope that we won’t be counting the dead, along with the dignity and the art and the courage, until there is new leadership that dares to pull us out of this profitable and infamous mistake of prohibition.

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