Drug Czar

Buenos Aires Travel Blog

 › entry 9 of 17 › view all entries

After an interesting day of lessons about Tango and the histroy of porte├▒o music, I was wisked away in a cab to meet with the "drug czar" of Argentina┬┤s ministry of health and nutrition. the office is located on Florida street next to the elite hustle and bustle of shopping and wall street-like skyscrapers. The inside however is void of anything that could possibly beconsidered in fashion- as any good governemnet building should be and had an absolute lack of color and airconditioning.

I have to admit I was a little nervous about the meeting; I don`t really have a back ground in INTA and I don`t want to be the person that asks the dumb question. Which- I don`t care what teachers say- their are dumb questions. Luckily, this wasn`t the day I show off my profound ability to discover a new dumb question.

After a brief introduction and some information about his position, the class was invited to ask questions. Well, since our grade is mostly based on participation, everyone knew that they had to ask something or risk being accused of not paying attention. What to ask though? I`m not really that interested about drugs or money laundering... Derek went first with an obvious, "If using a personal amount of marajuana is legal in Uruguay, but selling is not legal, then how to people get the substance?" Obvious answer: illegally.

Hannah was next with, "How do you think our cultures respond differently to the two legal drinking ages in our respective countries?" (That was paraphrased as I have no clue what she said exactly). His answer was mediocre but thourough: Drinking causes car accidents your country does a better job of getting people to not drive drunk, while our country does a better job of educating people against drinking until death. Of the percentage of people who drink in the US, more are likely to get smashed where as in Argentina, of teh people who drink most are likely to only have a little with dinner.

Good good. Ok, now for my question. "How is Argentina reacting to Eva Morales claims that cocainia should be allowed to be produced and sold for the indegenous people of the Andes regions? Does Argentina have a place in that culture? If so, what are the laws and platfrom that surround the situation?" (obviously, this was also paraprased as I was stumbling much more and took longer to come to the point). His answer was very interesting. Yes, Argentina has a place in this upper-Andes indegenous culture. The northern province of Salta and the border that touches Bolivia are mostly occupied by these people. Yes, the leaves that are used to make cocane are rolled up and chewed for hunger pains and altitude sickness as well as a tea is made from them. But, he wanted to stress that  the leaves are very different chemical compositions than the sold product of cocaina, and even politicians in teh Salta areas can be seen using the "chew" because it is culturably acceptable. As of now, Argentina has no law that regulates or restricts the use of the leaves and does not expect to address the issue in the near future. But, Argentina does not support Morales claims for the following reason: A survey was taken on the amount of leaves needed to supply all of teh indegenous people with leaves for a year. That number was 80,000 HA. However, Bolivia is producing closer to 135,000 HA of leaves which means that over half of that is going to "other" industries and not to the indegenous people.

For me, this is a really interestin issue and I would have liked to push him further and maybe grill him on why Argentina refuses to take a stance, ask about how he can represent his people... etc. But, other people had to get in on their participation grades so I left it at the explainitory.


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