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Anti-Drug Policies in Colombia
Successes, Failures, and Wrong Turns

Editor(s): Alejandro Gaviria, Daniel Mejia

Forty years after the declaration of the "war on drugs" by President Nixon, the debate on the effectiveness and costs of the ban is red-hot. Several former Latin American presidents and leading intellectuals from around the world have drawn attention to the ineffectiveness and adverse consequences of prohibitionism. This book thoroughly analyzes the drug policies of one of the main protagonists in this war.

The book covers many topics: the economics of drug production, the policies to reduce consumption and decrease supply during the Plan Colombia, the effects of the drug problem on Colombia's international relations, the prevention of money laundering, the connection between drug trafficking and paramilitary politics, and strategies against organized crime. Beyond the diversity in topics, there is a common thread running through all the chapters: the need to analyze objectively what works and what does not, based on empirical evidence. Presented here for the first time to an English-speaking audience, this book is a contribution to a debate that urgently needs to transcend ideology and preconceived opinions.

Biography of Editor(s)

Alejandro Gaviria is Minister of Health and Social Protection of Colombia and former dean of economics at the University of the Andes. He is coeditor of Is Geography Destiny? Lessons from Latin America.
Daniel Mejía is Secretary of Security for the city of Bogotá, Colombia, and a contributor to Innocent Bystanders: Developing Countries and the War on Drugs and Illicit Trade and the Global Economy.


  • "The publication of this book represents a landmark in the manner of confronting the problem of illegal drugs in Colombia. No country in the world has paid such a high cost as Colombia in terms of the lives of its political leaders, judges, policemen, soldiers, journalists, and tens of thousands of innocent civilians, nor suffered a graver damage to its democratic institutions. The moment has come to evaluate the results of this strategy, which has so few results to show beyond statistics about interdiction efforts, drug seizures, the persecution of drug cartels, deaths, and prisoners in jails."
    --from the Prologue by César Gaviria Trujillo, former president of the Republic of Colombia