Latest Drug War News

GoodShop: You Shop...We Give!

Shop online at and a percentage of each purchase will be donated to our cause! More than 600 top stores are participating!

The Internet Our Website

Global and National Events Calendar

Bottoms Up: Guide to Grassroots Activism

Prisons and Poisons

November Coalition Projects

Get on the Soapbox! with Soap for Change

November Coalition: We Have Issues!

November Coalition Local Scenes

November Coalition Multimedia Archive

The Razor Wire
Bring Back Federal Parole!
November Coalition: Our House

Stories from Behind The WALL

November Coalition: Nora's Blog

April 22, 2004 - The Bozeman Daily Chronicle (MT)

War On Drugs In Colombia Sparks Debate

By Gail Schontzler, Chronicle Staff Writer

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive

Spraying tons of chemical herbicides over Colombia has failed to make a dent in the cocaine supply to the United States, and it's ruining the lives of ordinary farmers, says a peasant organizer from the war-wracked country.

Miguel Cifuentes, 30, executive secretary of the Cimitarra River Valley Peasant Association, criticized the $2 billion U.S. war on drugs in Colombia on Tuesday at the Christus Collegium in Bozeman.

About 35 people attended the talk, sponsored by the Montana Human Rights Network, Bozeman Collective and Bozeman Peace Seekers.

Twenty-five times more Americans die from smoking tobacco each year than die from drugs, Cifuentes argued.

"Why don't they decide to fumigate the tobacco fields?" Cifuentes asked. His remarks were translated from Spanish by Scott Nicholson of Missoula, a Montana Human Rights Network organizer.

America has supported indiscriminate spraying of the Monsanto herbicide Round-Up, which destroys far more corn and food crops than drugs, Cifuentes charged. It sickens many peasants, particularly children and the elderly, hurting their eyes, breathing, stomachs and skin.

To survive economically, peasants have little choice but to grow poppies and coca plants, he said. When one drug crop is sprayed, the peasants simply cut down forests and plant more drugs.

Cifuentes argued the peasants are caught in the middle, victims of free trade agreements that hurt the local farm economy, victims of drug traffickers, victims of spraying and victims of right-wing paramilitary groups.

He blamed the paramilitaries for the gruesome deaths and disappearance of hundreds of people, and blamed the government for creating the paramilitaries.

Peasant organizers like himself and human rights activists have been falsely accused of collaborating with leftists guerrillas, Cifuentes said. He said he was attacked last year by men firing at his boat, but managed to escape.

Cifuentes argued that the U.S. war on drugs is in reality an excuse to intervene in Colombia and help U.S. corporations gain control of his country's oil, gas, coal and gold.

Don Hargrove, a retired Air Force officer and former Republican state senator, disagreed strongly with the notions that the war on drugs is a sham, or that Colombia's government supports the paramilitaries.

Hargrove said he had worked in Colombia for five years as a civil contractor assisting in the war on drugs.

"It's vicious, it's evil, it hurts people," Hargrove said of drug trafficking, adding that he personally knew hundreds of honest police officers who had been killed for fighting drugs.

Hargrove, who now serves on the Montana Parole Board, said almost every inmate has been involved with drugs. "If we could get rid of drugs, Montana could close its jails."

The two men agreed on one thing -- that demand for drugs among Americans and Europeans must be attacked.

Nicholson asked people to sign petitions urging their senators to oppose spraying in Colombia, free trade and funding to Colombia's military.

For the latest drug war news, visit our friends and allies below

We are careful not to duplicate the efforts of other organizations, and as a grassroots coalition of prisoners and social reformers, our resources (time and money) are limited. The vast expertise and scope of the various drug reform organizations will enable you to stay informed on the ever-changing, many-faceted aspects of the movement. Our colleagues in reform also give the latest drug war news. Please check their websites often.

The Drug Policy Alliance
Drug Reform Coordination Network
Drug Sense and The Media Awareness Project

Working to end drug war injustice

Meet the People Behind The U.S. Sentencing Guidelines

Questions or problems? Contact