Issue

Drug Wars

Militant Islamists escort drug convoys through northern Mali in exchange for hefty payments. The U.S. military and Honduran authorities use commando-style tactics to catch traffickers in the remote jungles of La Moskitia. A 15-year old from Ciudad Juarez, the most violent city in Mexico, chooses the clarinet over drugs after dropping out of school twice.

Drug Wars tells of men, women, and children who risk their lives—as drug users, traffickers, smugglers, and enforcement agents. You will find searing portraits of those who suffer from addiction, their family members and loved ones. These are stories not only of lives lost and opportunities missed, but also of the fear and disruption that can overwhelm a community.

Pulitzer Center journalists expose corruption, extortion, and murder in an often violent war on drugs, fought in all corners of the globe, in Cuba and Crimea, in Bolivia and Burma, and from the Philippines to Tajikistan. They cover various recovery programs, such as opioid substitution therapy, as well as policy debates involving the roles of drug enforcement agents, the police, the military, and government. And they ask important questions: Are drug users criminals or patients in need of medical treatment?

Drug Wars

Growing Controversy

The big city of La Paz may be a draw for younger people in Sabina Ramirez and her husband Roberto's village. But not for her. "I was born into a coca-growing family," Sabina says, "and we're going to keep it that way." The Ramirezes live in a humble two-bedroom cinder block house in the village of Irupana, in the forest region of Los Yungas. Of Aymara Indian stock, Roberto's eyes are constantly smiling. Sabina wears the traditional braid across her back, like most indigenous women from the area. Both show signs in their skin of a lifetime working under the strong Andean sun.

Bolivia's Coca Culture featured on Foreign Exchange

The coca plant, used in indigenous cultural rituals and traditional medicines, is also the main ingredient for cocaine. Bolivia is the third largest producer of coca and cocaine after Peru and Colombia. Despite pressure to cut back on coca farming, many Bolivians see few alternatives.

Aired on Foreign Exchange with Daljit Dhaliwal the week of September 19, 2008.

Credits:

Coca Si, Cocaina No

From the VQR website:

"Bolivian President Evo Morales won office three years ago with the support of the nation's coca growers. He's supporting those cocaleros with his "Coca Si, Cocaína No" program, allowing coca to be produced and marketed legally, while barring production of cocaine. This is a difficult line for Morales to walk, but he does it to satisfy both his citizens and the international community."

Visit VQR to view entire slideshow

Coca, Si! Cocaina, No!

Aired on Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Dispatches on April 14, 2008

Visit CBC to listen to an mp3 of the program

Ruxandra's piece starts approximately 15:30 minutes in.

From CBC's Dispatches site:

The government of Bolivia would like it understood that it is NOT in the cocaine business. It's in the COCA business. Big difference. Bolivia encourages farmers to grow the plant that produces cocaine, providing they turn it into something else.