Missiles for … medical equipment?

Here is a news item that leaves me almost at a loss for words — The Associated Press reported today that “A US government team is evaluating Nicaragua’s proposal to destroy hundreds of Soviet-made missiles in exchange for hospital equipment, authorities said on Tuesday. President Daniel Ortega met the leader of the US delegation, John Feeley, head of Central American affairs at the US State Department, shortly after the Pentagon team of US hospital administration specialists arrived Monday for a 10-day review of Nicaragua hospitals to see what medical equipment was needed. The US government has long pressured Nicaragua to destroy the shoulder-fired SAM-7 anti-aircraft missiles as part of a global effort to eliminate weapons that could fall into the hands of terrorists. Nicaragua has already destroyed about half its original stockpile of 2,000 missiles and it is offering to destroy 651 of the remaining 1,051 SAMs in exchange for ‘modern medical equipment and medications’, Ortega’s office said in a press statement”. This AP story was published in the Jerusalem Post here.

7 thoughts on “Missiles for … medical equipment?”

  1. i think medical pot & coke would probably be the most panamerican things to do under the circumstances

    none of that afghani opium heroin hash certainly

    this self travesty will come to be known as
    we ran contra contra too

  2. whooops
    cancel that coke please


    UN Urges Bolivia to Make Coca Chewing a Crime, Report Says
    By Joshua Goodman

    March 4 (Bloomberg) — The United Nations called on Bolivia and Peru to criminalize the chewing of coca leaves, a practice used by Andean peasants for centuries.

    The report by the UN agency charged with enforcing narcotics treaties also urges the governments “to establish as a criminal offense” using the leaf to make tea, flour and other products. The report says consuming the leaves from the bushy Andes plant used to make cocaine plays a role “in the progression of drug dependence.”

    The annual report by the Vienna-based International Narcotics Control Board, an update on drug control efforts worldwide, may anger the leaders of Andean nations where coca is grown, especially Bolivian President Evo Morales, a former coca grower who has called for the legalization of the leaf.

    “In Bolivia, there will never be a policy of zero coca,” said Hilder Sejas, spokesman for the vice ministry of social defense. “To do so would walk over the rights of millions of Bolivians for whom coca is a symbol of our cultural identity.”

    The coca plant contains trace amounts, less than 1 percent, of the alkaloid that in large quantities can be used to make cocaine. Andean peasants chew it for its mild stimulant effect, which helps ward off hunger.

    A 1961 UN treaty stipulates governments must gradually eliminate coca chewing and other traditional uses of the leaf as well as attempt to eradicate the plant. Trade in coca leaves is allowed only for scientific purposes or as a flavoring agent as long as the alkaloids are removed.

    Narcotics Treaty

    “Nobody doubts the medical value of coca, heroin or cocaine, just as nobody denies their illegality under the 1961 convention,” Philip Emafo, the Nigerian president of the INCB, said in a telephone interview from Vienna. “If the provisions of the convention are being breached, the board in its wisdom, or lack of wisdom, is obligated to act.”

    Referring to the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs ratified worldwide, the report calls on Peru and Bolivia — the second and third largest cocaine producers in the world, after Colombia — to “consider amending their national legislation so as to abolish or prohibit coca leaf chewing and the manufacture of coca tea.”

    Emafo said the agency can recommend an embargo on the import and export of drugs for countries with serious drug policy breaches. No action against Peru and Bolivia has been discussed, he said.

    Bolivian Law

    Bolivia — in violation of its treaty obligations — currently allows the use of coca in its natural form.

    Wade Davis, a Washington-based author and botanist who studied coca in Colombia for his 1996 book “One River,” said coca’s treatment as a narcotic as dangerous as heroin and cocaine in the UN convention is “absurd.”

    “Coca is as vital to the Andes as the Eucharist is to Catholics,” said Davis, who is also a National Geographic Society explorer-in-residence. “There’s no evidence of toxicity or addiction in 4,000 years of use.”

    Policy Consortium, a network of drug policy experts, said the ban on coca was based on outmoded science and reflects “harsh and narrow judgments that condemn countries that permit traditional coca use and the industrialization of coca.”

    In a 2006 speech before the UN General Assembly, Morales lashed out at the criminalization of the coca leaf.

    “This coca leaf represents Andean culture, it is a coca leaf that represents the environment and the hope of our peoples,” Morales said, holding up the leaf.

    Coca Cake

    For his 80th birthday, Cuban President Fidel Castro received a cake baked with coca flour from Morales.

    Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, also a critic of the U.S.-backed policy of forced coca eradication, said on Jan. 11 that he chews coca daily. The Venezuelan leader is also paying for the construction of a factory in Bolivia to produce coca tea, flour and other natural products.

    David Johnson, U.S. assistant secretary for international narcotics and law enforcement affairs, said the U.S. is concerned about Bolivia’s stated goal to increase coca production for traditional uses from 12,000 to 20,000 hectares.

    “We believe that the policy, as it’s been articulated to me, is not consistent with Bolivia’s obligations under international law,” he said at a Washington press conference Feb. 29 to present the State Department’s annual report on international anti-narcotic progress.

    To contact the reporter on this story: Joshua Goodman in Bogota at Jgoodman19@bloomberg.net

    Last Updated: March 4, 2008 19:01 EST

  3. apropos of the above
    reuters is reporting today
    er how shall i put this
    an exhortation to turtle bay to have a greater respect for the indigenous people of greater turtle island

    Bolivia and Peru defend coca use

    The UN lists coca as a controlled substance like cocaine or opium
    Bolivia and Peru have defended the continued, traditional use of coca leaves after they were criticised by a UN drugs agency report.
    The UN report concentrated on coca cultivation as the basis for cocaine production, they said.

    It failed to recognise that coca leaves had been used by indigenous peoples for medicinal and religious purposes for centuries, they added.

    Peru and Bolivia are second only to Colombia as world cocaine producers.

    Peru said a balance was needed between allowing cultivation for traditional uses while preventing it for cocaine production.

    “One of the principles of humanitarian law is the respect of traditional customs, recognised by the national constitution,” said Jose Belaunde, Peru’s foreign relations minister.

    “The United Nations lacks respect for the indigenous people of Peru and Bolivia who have used the coca leaf since forever,” said Peruvian Congresswoman Maria Sumire.

    “For indigenous people, coca is a sacred leaf that is part of their cultural identity,” she said.

    Everyday use

    The International Narcotics Control Board released an annual report on Wednesday that reminded the two governments that use and possession of coca leaves, the main ingredient in cocaine, were limited to medical and scientific purposes.

    The two countries should “abolish or prohibit activities… such as coca leaf chewing and the manufacture of coca tea”, the report said.

    People in the Andes use coca leaves to alleviate hunger and tiredness, for medicinal purposes and in religious rituals.

    UN conventions list coca as a dangerous controlled substance, along with cocaine and opium.

    Bolivian President Evo Morales has been lobbying for it to be taken off the list when the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs meets in 2009.

  4. yikes
    this monster turtle has been coming on since a century before westphalia

    indeed we are alive & living here today in the early spanish inquisition


    Drug War Chronicle – world’s leading drug policy newsletter

    Latin America: INCB Calls on Peru, Bolivia to Ban Coca Chewing

    from Drug War Chronicle, Issue #526, 3/7/08

    In its 2007 Annual Report, released Wednesday, the International Narcotics Control Board called on the governments of Bolivia and Peru to ban coca chewing, as well as its sale or export. The indigenous people of the Andes have chewed coca for thousands of years, and the call is likely to fall on deaf ears in the Andes.

    The INCB is a 23-member independent commission that works with the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), its Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND) and other international organizations to monitor implementation of the series of international treaties that form the legal backbone of the global prohibition regime. While its remit includes ensuring adequate supplies of drugs are available for medical and scientific uses (see related story here), it spends much of its resources trying to prevent any deviations from the global prohibitionist drug policy status quo. For instance, this year, the INCB once again criticized Canada for allowing harm reduction measures such as the Vancouver safe injection site and the distribution of “safe crack use kits.”
    In its review of coca and cocaine production in South America, the board noted that despite multi-billion dollar eradication efforts in Colombia, Peru, and Bolivia — responsible for 50%, 33%, and 17% of coca production, respectively — cocaine production had remained stable at between 800 and 1,000 tons a year for the past decade. The way to get at cocaine production is to eliminate coca production, the board suggested.

    “The Board requests the Government of Bolivia and Peru to take measures to prohibit the sale, use and attempts to export coca leaf for purposes which are not in line with the international drug control treaties,” the group said. “The Board is concerned by the negative impact of increased coca leaf production and cocaine manufacture in the region.”

    It urged governments “to establish as a criminal offense” using coca leaf to make tea, flour, or other products. That would undercut efforts in all three countries to develop and expand markets for coca products.

    Reaction from Bolivia, where former coca leader President Evo Morales has called for the removal of the coca plant from the list of substances banned by the international drug treaties, was swift and negative. “In Bolivia, there will never be a policy of zero coca,” said Hilder Sejas, spokesman for the vice ministry of social defense. “To do so would walk over the rights of millions of Bolivians for whom coca is a symbol of our cultural identity,” he told Bloomberg News Service Wednesday.

    Treating coca as if it were a dangerous drug was “absurd,” said Wade Davis, an author and botanist who studied coca in Colombia. “Coca is as vital to the Andes as the Eucharist is to Catholics,” he told the news service. “There is no evidence of toxicity or addiction in 4,000 years of use.”

    The INCB call to ban coca use was also met by a sharp attack from the Transnational Institute, whose Drugs and Democracy Project seeks to develop and implement pragmatic, harm reduction approaches to global drug issues. “The Board is displaying both arrogance and blindness by demanding that countries impose criminal sanctions on distribution and possession for traditional uses of the coca leaf, which is a key feature of Andean-Amazon indigenous cultures,” said Pien Metaal, a TNI researcher specializing in coca issues. “Isn’t it time for this UN treaty body to get in touch with reality and show some more cultural sensitivity?”

    Not only does the INCB proposal violate the UN Declaration on Indigenous Rights, it “would mean the prosecution of several million people in the Andean-Amazon region,” TNI said. “It targets not just consumers, but also peasants who grow coca.”

    “The Board’s position makes no sense,” said Metaal. “It would criminalize entire peoples for a popular tradition and custom that has no harm and is even beneficial.”

    Nothing New in Peru
    Comment posted by Giordano on Sat, 03/08/2008 – 12:14am
    Attempts to ban Peruvian coca chewing are nothing new. The INCB needs to prepare itself for a very long battle.

    Opposition to the coca shrub dates back to the First Council of Lima in 1552. Clergymen of that era speculated that prohibiting the coca plant (according to them, an invention of the devil) would make it easier to tame and civilize the local indigenous population. Peruvian inquisition records indicate that coca prohibition was still producing drug trials by the end of the 17th century.

    Despite an almost continuous effort to eradicate the plant by the Catholic Church and various foreign and domestic governments, 456 years later, Peruvians still chew coca.


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