<i>"The Name of Our Country is América" - Simon Bolivar</i> The Narco News Bulletin<br><small>Reporting on the War on Drugs and Democracy from Latin America
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Eduardo Galeano: “The War on Drugs is a Great Imperial Hypocrisy”

The Narco News Interview


By Alex Contreras Baspineiro
Narco News South American Bureau Chief

November 8, 2004

MONTEVIDEO, URUGUAY: “The so-called war on drugs is a great imperial hypocrisy – specifically of the United States and its allies – aimed at militarizing the region and imposing policies that go against its peoples,” said Uruguayan writer and journalist Eduardo Galeano last week.


Eduardo Galeano
In Montevideo, we had the great privilege of interviewing the acclaimed author of The Open Veins of Latin America, Memory of Fire, and other books. On October 31, Galeano took part, like the majority of Uruguayans, in the triumph of the Progressive Conference/Broad Front party, the left-wing coalition whose candidate Dr. Tabaré Vázquez will be the next president of this beautiful country.

We spoke with Galeano about the current insurgency of the Latin American people, and also about the militaristic anti-terrorism and anti-drug policies that hold back this continent’s – and the world’s – potential.

“These policies are simply pretexts to militarize the people, to try to impose new world orders that have nothing to do with nations’ own realities,” he emphasized. “They are pretexts that insult human intelligence.”

“The dominant system loves money. The U.S. loves money. That’s why, in this fight against drug trafficking and terrorism, as long as there is supply and demand, there will always be drug use. On the other hand, while there is a supply of weapons, there will always be wars.”

In that sense, prohibitionist policies will never get results, because they don’t attack drug supply and demand, which are the root of the problem. Instead, they serve geopolitical and other interests.

Plan Colombia: “Synonymous with Death”

Galeano said that Plan Colombia, now being applied in Bolivia, Colombia, and Peru, is not really aimed at eradicating drugs or fighting trafficking, but is rather “synonymous with death.”

“The world is being subjected to an invisible military dictatorship imposed by the United States,” he said. “And this dictatorship is not just military, but also economic, political, and social.”

According to Galeano, the U.S. government has for years produced a series of “demons” to justify its interventionist policy.

“Years ago, the war imposed by the United States was against the reds or the communists,” he said. “Later, narco-traffickers were identified as the enemy, and the current pretext is the fight against terrorism. Those are the demons. Those are the fabricated pretexts used to justify criminal policies.”

The United States, he said, spends $2.5 billion dollars per day on its policies of militarization, an astronomical figure that could be spent on ending hunger, or providing healthcare or education in countries all over the world.

According to the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, the global arms market grew by eight percent last year, with total profits of $40 billion dollars. Four countries lead in global arms sales: the United States, Britain, France and Russia. Coincidentally enough, these four countries also hold veto power on the United Nations (UN) Security Council (along with China).

In practice, veto power means decision-making power. The UN General Assembly, in which all countries are represented, makes recommendations, but it is the Security Council that ultimately decides. The Assembly speaks or is quiet, while the Council acts or does not act. In other words, four powers whose economies depend on wars around the world have the power to direct the course of the world’s top international organization. According to its charter, the UN is charged with maintaining peace, human rights, friendship between nations and international cooperation.

A Lie Only a Fool Would Believe

Galeano is very clear in his opinions on drug policy, militarization, and the so-called war on terror.

For example, he notes that international oil has fed the U.S. arms industry more than anything else in recent years. The exchange of oil for dollars and then dollars for weapons allows many countries to drown internal protest in blood, and feeds the war economy that is one of the foundations of U.S. national prosperity.

“If there are still fools in this world, let them believe those who spread the war on drugs and the war on terror. It is a great lie, one that no person with any common sense believes anymore,” he said.

According to Galeano, the recent popular victories in several Latin American countries – he did not specify which – have become “a nightmare” for the empire. For that reason, he does not rule out intervention by other Latin American countries in an attempt to halt the advance of the social movements.

The Uruguayan writer warns that if various Latin American countries with overlapping political, social, and economic conditions do not establish unity among themselves, the U.S. “empire with its demons” – using the pretext of fighting terrorism and defending national sovereignty – could try to stop these new developments from below.

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The Narco News Bulletin: Reporting on the Drug War and Democracy from Latin America