"Ivan Marquez" at peace talks in Cuba

At peace talks in Cuba, Colombian guerrilla group the FARC outlined a proposal to legalize drug consumption and cultivation, complementing reforms that are about to be tabled by the Colombian government.

Speaking at a press conference in Havana, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) chief negotiator Luciano Marin, alias "Ivan Marquez," made the announcement as part of the rebels’ proposals over land use -- one of the six points on the agenda for the peace negotiations.

Marquez called for an "an end to policies of criminalization and persecution, [and] the suspension of aerial fumigation and other forms of eradication that are generating negative socio-environmental and economic impacts."

He added the group wanted the government to "consider plans to legalize marijuana, poppy and coca crops that will be used for therapeutic or medicinal purposes, for industrial use or for cultural reasons."

Marquez also called for the legalization of drug consumption, to be accompanied by "robust education" programs.

According to Colombian investigative news site La Silla Vacia, the FARC’s proposal for drug law reform "fits perfectly" with the latest draft of the government’s National Drug Statute, which the site obtained even though it will not be presented to Congress until March.

La Silla Vacia highlighted five areas in which the proposed law would converge with the FARC’s proposals: demonstrating the government is willing to reconsider the repressive approach to drugs; creating the possibility of legalizing drug crops; restricting aerial fumigation; and creating mechanisms in which coca growers and low-level guerrillas or collaborators will not end up in prison on drug trafficking charges.

Government officials denied there had been any consultation with representatives at the negotiating table, a claim which La Silla Vacia said it had verified.

InSight Crime Analysis

It is not surprising that there is considerable overlap between the FARC and the government proposals.

In recent years, President Juan Manuel Santos has emerged as a key figure in the campaign for international debate over drug laws, and has at least hinted at the sort of liberalization suggested by the FARC. His government has also overseen legislation decriminalizing the possession of small quantities of cannabis and cocaine.

This convergence can only benefit peace negotiations, as addressing the drug trade will, at some point, play a key part in determining the talks' success. The FARC remains deeply involved in the drug trade, especially at the level of coca cultivation, and a central doubt hanging over the process is whether factions within the guerrillas would be willing to relinquish control of lucrative criminal networks to demobilize.

Investigations

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9
  • 10
Prev Next

Homicides in Guatemala: Collecting the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Collecting the Data

When someone is murdered in Guatemala, police, forensic doctors and government prosecutors start making their way to the crime scene and a creaky, antiquated 20th century bureaucratic machine kicks into gear. Calls are made. Forms are filled out by hand, or typed into computers, or both. Some...

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's Mirror: War and Drug Trafficking in the Prison System

Colombia's prisons are a reflection of the multiple conflicts that have plagued the country for the last half-century. Paramilitaries, guerrillas and drug trafficking groups have vied for control of the jails where they can continue to manage their operations on the outside. Instead of corralling these forces...

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

The MS13 Moves (Again) to Expand on US East Coast

Local police and justice officials are convinced that the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) has strengthened its presence along the East Coast of the United States. The alarm follows a recent spate of violence -- of the type not seen in a decade -- which included dismembered bodies and...

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Reign of the Kaibil: Guatemala’s Prisons Under Byron Lima

Following Guatemala's long and brutal civil war, members of the military were charged, faced trial and sentenced to jail time. Even some members of a powerful elite unit known as the Kaibil were put behind bars. Among these prisoners, none were more emblematic than Captain Byron Lima...

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

Nariño, Colombia: Ground Zero of the Cocaine Trade

The department of Nariño in southwest Colombia is the main coca-producing area in the country and in the world. It is a place scarred by poverty and years of armed conflict between guerrillas, the state and paramilitary groups. Perhaps nowhere else in the country are the challenges...

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Homicides in Guatemala: Conclusions and Recommendations

Olfato. It is a term used quite often in law enforcement and judicial circles in Central America (and other parts of the world as well). It refers to the sixth sense they have as they see a crime scene, investigate a murder or plow through the paperwork...

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

'MS13 Members Imprisoned in El Salvador Can Direct the Gang in the US'

Special Agent David LeValley headed the criminal division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) Washington office until last November 8. While in office, he witnessed the rise of the MS13, the Barrio 18 (18th Street) and other smaller gangs in the District of Columbia as well...

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

Homicides in Guatemala: Analyzing the Data

In the last decade, homicides in Guatemala have obeyed a fairly steady pattern. Guatemala City and some of its surrounding municipalities have the greatest sheer number of homicides. Other states, particularly along the eastern border have the highest homicide rates. Among these are the departments of Escuintla...

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

The Lucky ‘Kingpin’: How ‘Chepe Diablo’ Has (So Far) Ridiculed Justice

José Adán Salazar Umaña is the only Salvadoran citizen currently on the US government's Kingpin List. But in his defense, Salazar Umaña claims is he is an honorable businessman who started his career by exchanging money along the borders between Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. He does...

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

How the MS13 Tried (and Failed) to Create a Single Gang in the US

In July 2011, members of the Mara Salvatrucha (MS13) attended a meeting organized in California by a criminal known as "Bad Boy." Among the invitees was José Juan Rodríguez Juárez, known as "Dreamer," who had gone to the meeting hoping to better understand what was beginning to...