Earlier this week, I sat in my Economics class and listened to a disturbingly depressing lecture on the “War on Drugs”. It’s one of those subjects that are especially controversial. In the world of economics, the arguments revolve around which is more profitable: maintaining the status quo, decriminalizing drugs, or legalizing and regulating drugs? I wasn’t quite sure how to formulate my opinion on the issue for several reasons. First of all, I am only a senior in high school and by no means feel like I have firm grasp on the economic elements that make the world go round. Second of all, I feel that I have a strong bias founded in the fact that – call me a traditionalist if you want – I think drugs are really bad for people and no amount of GDP increase will change that.
Regardless, as my teacher continued the discussion, I found myself stuck on a certain facet of the topic – one of the most heart-breaking stories that has been unfolding throughout the past several decades: the struggling South American nation of Colombia. Colombia, more so than others, has been torn apart by the drug industry that has grown extremely rapidly – a fact that serves as the lethal cherry on top of the giant cake of explosive materials. The country has already been struggling for virtually its entire existence, dealing with political conflicts that have victimized millions of innocent citizens.
Currently, the Colombian government struggles to keep its head above the toxic waters of the struggle, receiving a meager amount of financial backing to fight the National Liberation Army (ELN) and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), guerilla organizations that brings in billions more than the Colombian government, principally from illegal drug trading.
On a slightly brighter note, however, Amnesty International reported earlier this week that the FARC has set free two hostages that were captured in 2002. The guerilla group has accumulated a significant number of war crimes on their record through thousands of abductions. Unfortunately, the FARC still holds countless people hostage, some of whom were kidnapped more than 11 years ago. The Colombian president, Alvaro Uribe, has attempted to negotiate the release of many of the hostages; however, the FARC refuses to release any unless it is in an exchange of FARC members who are currently in prison.
The turmoil in Colombia has reached epic proportions, largely because of the atrocious drug issue. However, the war on drugs has overshadowed less prominent but incredibly significant human rights violations that are also taking place in the country. Statistics have shown that a shockingly large number of persons have been internally displaced, more than half of whom are women (one fifth of whom are victims of sexual abuse). Amnesty International is fighting vigorously to influence leaders to help better the situation of the country; but, looking at the events up to date, it is clear that Colombia is going to need nothing short of a miracle to fix this crisis.