Monthly Archives: July 2013

So this is 30…

Earlier this month, my closest childhood friend visited me in Mexico and we traveled together to Oaxaca, after spending several days in Mexico City. It was an incredible trip, creating new memories, sharing the old ones and being grateful for the support, laughter and closeness that we derive from our friendship. But I won’t get too cheesy on the friendship front, although I could.

In our hotel room in Oaxaca one night, my friend said to me that she often freezes moments in her life and thinks, “so this is 30”. Having both turned 30 this year, we have reflected on what this self-imbued with meaning year is supposed to be like. I have made a list of 30 things I want to do during the year. I suppose that as a child, we would imagine 30 and assume that we would be adults. And this is what we are—but it also feels like so much more. Our concept of age changes as we approach it and we realize that the doubts will probably never end, that the learning becomes greater every year and that you can decide to never stop having fun.

When our respective mothers were around 30 they already had at least one child and seemed so grown-up. It was sometimes hard to imagine our mothers before we existed—partying, being care-free and exploring the world as we are currently doing. Now we have reached this hailed (perhaps only by us) age and while it provides a space for reflection, it also provides a space of relaxation. We don’t need to take ourselves too seriously. We might be 30, but that just means that we have a little more wisdom, but just as many questions as before. So, this is 30. Traveling around Mexico with your best friend, jumping in the air, staying at shady cabins just to see the sunrise, never forgetting to be grateful for what we have…

Jumping through life.

In just one decade we will be saying, so this is 40. Maybe there will be kids involved then, maybe our careers will be more advanced, but hopefully we won’t have stopped jumping, dancing or playing games. And we should never stop searching for that perfect sunrise.

Thank you, Nora, for a beautiful visit.

Drug Policy in the Americas

Earlier this month, from June 2-6, in Antigua, Guatemala the Organization of American States General Assembly was held. The theme this year was chosen by the host government, in this case Guatemala and was titled “For a Comprehensive Policy against the World Drug Problem in the Americas.” For this topic to even be discussed at a multilateral organization like the OAS is a huge step forward.


The OAS seems much more open to civil society than other multilateral agencies. There was a sense that people could stand up for their convictions and since it is a smaller gathering than that of the United Nations, it was easier to find people with whom you wanted to connect. Civil society was provided with a space to make statements on various issues, although the main one was related to drugs and drug policy.

A highlight of the General Assembly was how much the OAS scenarios report was mentioned. If you don’t know much about the report, you can find more here. While Secretary General Insulza was clear that this was not meant to be a blueprint, but rather to serve as a tool, it is clear that the winds of change are flowing through the region.

Secretary of State, John Kerry, was on hand to provide the statement from the United States and while he discussed a “full commitment to dialogue in the region,” he also spoke about the need to “eliminate the scourge (of drugs) or at least reduce it.” This type of language only continues to stigmatize drug users and doesn’t help us to move towards a space of dialogue. No one is in favor of problematic drug use, but there needs to be a more nuanced understanding.

Compared to the United States, Nicaragua and a few other of the Caribbean countries were completely prohibitionist, stating that they will not open the space to legalization or even decriminalization and advocating for a “drug-free country.” On the other spectrum, Mexico never fully mentioned the true impact of prohibition in the country, preferring to highlight the need for prevention and treatment and mentioning at least 10 times in their 5 minute speech that they are seeking to become a “Mexico at peace.” While I also seek a Mexico at peace, we must move beyond the rhetoric and find concrete policy alternatives that put peace, human rights and dignity at the center, rather than continuing with the same policies and simply changing the discourse.

The General Assembly ended with a declaration from the member states which commits them to holding a Special Session on drugs in 2014. This will be a crucial step towards creating some sort of hemispheric coalition prior to the United Nations 2016 General Assembly Special Session. While this might seem like a lot of meetings, many people have been waiting years to feel change on the horizon and we can almost see it.

Many people wrote on the OAS process and below are some highlights:

Open Letter to the governments of the region present in the OAS General Assembly

Latin American Leaders Chart Course for Drug Policy Debate By Coletta Youngers

The OAS Position on Drugs: A (Gradual) New Approach By the International Crisis Group