For Chronicle readers who understand written Spanish, the September conference in Buenos Aires continues to provide dividends. Available at the conference (and now through the publishers or authors) were two books, one hot off the presses and one a couple of years old but still packed with valuable information, as well as a magazine. All three resources deal in a comprehensive manner with different aspects of drug policy in Latin America, and for you Spanish speakers, well worth checking out. For you who don't speak Spanish, maybe it's time to think about learning it.
For a thorough, well-documented and well-researched look at all aspects of coca and cocaine in Peru, check out the just published "The Devils Speak: Amazonia, Coca, and the Drug Trade in Peru; Urgent Writings" ("Hablan los diablos: Amazonia, coca, y el narcotrafico en el Peru; escritos urgentes") by economist and coca grower advisor Hugo Cabieses, psychologist and coca grower advisor Baldomero Caceres, attorney and drug trafficking expert Ricardo Soberon, and journalist Ruger Rumrill. In addition to heavily annotated chapters on coca use and production, the coca growers movement, the cocaine traffic, and environmental impacts of the drug trade, the book also contains extensive interviews with coca grower leaders Nancy Obregon and Elsa Malpartida. "Devils" is available through the Ecuadorian publishing house Abya-Yala.
"Drugs: Making the Impossible Possible, the Harm Reduction Experience in Argentina" ("Drogas: hacienda possible lo imposible, experiencia de la reduccion de danos en Argentina") was published two years ago, but its in-depth look at harm reduction in a good-sized Latin American city (Rosario, Argentina) remains unparalleled and well worth the effort. Beginning in the 1990s, with the help of the Argentine health ministry, teams organized by the University of Rosario's Center for the Study of Drug Dependence and AIDS (CEADS-UNR) began hitting the streets of Rosario in an effort to take harm reduction where it was most needed: to the young people of the city's night life and to the slums or "irregular urban settlements" surrounding the city. Headed by CEADS-UNR director Dr. Silvia Inchaurraga, a group of contributors describe the various aspects of, and issues surrounding, what has become a very successful model harm reduction program. "Making the Impossible Possible" is available through the Argentine Harm Reduction Association.
Last but not least, the Colombian Institute for Peace and Development Studies (INDEPAZ) publishes the bi-monthly magazine "Meeting Point" ("Punto de Encuentro"), which concentrates on issues of war, peace, human rights, and development in Colombia, which means there is a lot of writing about coca, cocaine, and the drug trade. The September-October issue, for example, contains a selection of pieces on "the other war," the spraying with pesticides of hundreds of thousands of acres of Colombian farm land in an effort to wipe out the coca crop. It also contains a critical examination of Plan Colombia ("Plan Colombia: The Patriot Plan?), a rather jaundiced view of the "demobilization" of right-wing paramilitaries, and a call for a humanitarian and political solution to the war on drugs by 2010. "Meeting Point" is available through INDEPAZ or via Mama Coca.