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In battle against drugs, Europe must help Latin America find alternative crops – UN

In battle against drugs, Europe must help Latin America find alternative crops – UN

The head of the United Nations anti-narcotics agency today called upon the European Union (EU) to do more to help farmers in poor drug-producing countries like Bolivia to find sustainable alternative livelihoods as a crucial component in fighting the global drug problem.

“Reducing drug supply must go hand in hand with promoting development and job-creation,” UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Executive Director Antonio Maria Costa said in a statement ahead of this week’s Summit of Heads of State and Government of the EU and Latin America and the Caribbean in Vienna.

Noting that many Europeans were worried about importing problems from the outside such as drugs, illegal immigration, human trafficking and dirty money, he added: “I believe the response should be for Europe to export security by helping regions plagued by instability, violence and injustice to tackle their problems at source. What happens in the Andes can become Europe’s problem, if not today then tomorrow.”

Mr. Costa said he hoped the summit participants would agree practical measures to strengthen the fight against drug trafficking, corruption and organized crime. “The threat posed by drugs can be lowered by reducing supply, demand and trafficking,” he noted.

“EU leaders should drive home the message to their people that there is a direct link between drug consumption in Europe and serious crime in the drug-producing countries of Latin America. When you buy a line of cocaine, you are putting money into the pockets of Latin American criminals.”

Corruption is an impediment to good governance, democracy and economic development in many Latin American and Caribbean countries, which must demonstrate convincingly that they are “serious about uprooting corruption - a job which no outsider can do for them,” Mr. Costa said. “But the EU can help by providing resources, know-how and assistance.”