Two decades of counter-narcotics assistance in Latin America have shown that military aid does little to reduce drug production and trafficking. At best it creates a balloon effect, spurring drug-related violence in region after region.

But as the Drug War manifests in new countries, it’s met with the same one-size-fits-all military strategies – at the insistence of the U.S. government.

Current U.S. drug policy stems from a failure to recognize the roots of the drug trade: U.S. demand and the devastating poverty that drives people to grow and sell drugs.  And the War on Drugs itself has proved a failure: today both violence and drug use are at all-time highs.

As long as users in the U.S. continue to provide an ample market for cocaine, cartels in Mexico will kill to control that market. The peaceful future that we all seek cannot be found in the barrel of a gun, but in well-funded schools and well-funded U.S. drug rehab clinics.

A change in direction is long overdue.  Witness for Peace Solidarity Collective calls on the United States to



  • Redirect Plan Colombia, Mérida Initiative and CARSI funds to anti-poverty and youth empowerment programs.


  • Prioritize drug abuse prevention, addiction treatment and poverty reduction on both sides of the border.


  • Renegotiate trade policies like NAFTA, CAFTA and the U.S.-Colombia FTA, which exacerbate the poverty, displacement and social inequalities that give cartels opportunities for recruitment and influence.