WOLA: Advocacy for Human Rights in the Americas
7 Dec 2009 | News

Development First: Rural Development and Illicit Crop Cultivation in Afghanistan and the Andes

Eradication of coca and opium poppy crops has been a mainstay of U.S. international drug policy for decades, absorbing hundreds of millions of dollars.  But overall coca and poppy production has remained robust, and cocaine and heroin prices have fallen sharply since the early 1980s.  Moreover, where alternative livelihoods are not already in place for farmers and their families, forced eradication has exacerbated poverty and undermined security and governance, from Afghanistan to the Andes.

At a timely Capitol Hill briefing on Tuesday, December 8, international experts will discuss challenges to achieving sustainable reductions in coca and poppy growing, focusing on the situations in rural areas of Afghanistan and Colombia, the world's leading producers of heroin and cocaine, respectively.

The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) will host the briefing in cooperation with Senator Bob Menendez, Chair of the International Development Subcommittee of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and Representative John Tierney, Chair of the National Security and Foreign Affairs Subcommittee of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.


Tom Kramer:  Researcher, Drugs and Democracy Program, Transnational Institute (TNI), The Netherlands.  Mr. Kramer has just returned from two weeks research in Afghanistan.

Carlos Rosero:  Founder, Black Communities Process (PCN), Colombia.

Vanda Felbab-Brown:  Fellow, Foreign Policy, 21st Century Defense Initiative, The Brookings Institution, author of Shooting Up: Counterinsurgency and the War on Drugs.

James T. Smith:  Independent consultant, former Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator, USAID Bureau for Economic Growth, Agriculture and Trade, co-author of a recent evaluation of Plan Colombia prepared for USAID.

Coletta Youngers:  Senior Fellow, Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), co-author of WOLA's new report, Development First.

At the briefing, WOLA will present its new report Development First, which summarizes the lessons learned over decades of crop eradication and alternative development efforts, demonstrating how eradication without viable economic alternatives already in place is a recipe for replanting and distrust of government, and how long-term investments in rural development and governance can deliver better results.

When:        Tuesday, December 8, 2009, 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm

Where:       The U.S. Capitol, Senate Visitor Center, Room 215
                    First and East Capitol Streets, Washington, DC

Refreshments will be provided

Members of the press, please RSVP to Kristel Mucino, [email protected]


For More Information Contact:
Kristel Mucino, Communications Coordinator, TNI/WOLA Drug Law Reform Project
[email protected]; cell (617) 584-1713