07 March 2014
Category : Interview
“Cooperation in drug policies is essential”
Entrevista al delegado del Plan Nacional sobre Drogas (PNSD), Francisco de Asís Babín.Interview with the delegate of the National Drug Plan (PNSD), Francisco de Asís Babín.
The FIIAPP has the support of different public institutions for the development of its drug policy projects at the international level. One of these is the PNSD, a key member in the leadership of COPOLAD, the joint programme between Latin America and the European Union for strengthening and exchanging experiences regarding these policies. Today at the FIIAPP headquarters, PNSD delegate Francisco de Asís Babín presented an overview of Spain’s policy in this area, which already has 30 years of experience under its belt. In addition to emphasizing that the work in social and occupational integration being done by Spain, which invests over 400 million euros annually in drug policies, is a source of “pride”, he shared some of his impressions of international cooperation in this sector.
Is international cooperation useful for strengthening drug policy in terms of reducing supply and demand?
It’s not only useful. It’s absolutely essential. For a long time, we lived in the utopia where some countries produced and others consumed, and each had to do its work to minimize the effect of its problem. Today this is a fallacy. There is no country that cultivates and doesn’t consume, and there is no country that, despite having consumption as its main problem, does not produce. Sharing knowledge on controlling supply and successful experiences and best practices for reducing demand is common sense and an ethical obligation.
In the COPOLAD programme, what does the EU contribute to Latin America and vice versa?
To highlight two things and be relatively concise, in Europe there has been a clear strengthening of the strategy and of knowledge of information in order to be the best when it comes to preventing drug trafficking and money laundering; and, reciprocally, I believe the European Union is in a position to drive a significant reinforcement of the function of observatory for the design of new policies. And these are realities that, in the case of COPOLAD, materialize in collaborative instruments, such as the library of documentation related to the drug problem, the reinforcement of the observatory itself and in other more specific work, such as that carried out by Germany involving alternative crops so that people who cultivate drugs for a living can find means of subsistence other than this.
Does the diversification and extension of drug trafficking routes represent a current and future challenge?
Yes. The more efficient the fight against criminal networks, the more probable it is that these become diversified and turn into an alternative route because the bad guys don’t want to lose their merchandise. The instruments aimed at depriving the bad guys of the power of this trafficking must be strengthened. If you close one channel, another opens; if you demonstrate to criminal networks that you are in a position to take away that hypothetical profit they were expecting, maybe they will start to reflect on whether or not these strategies have a future. I’m talking from a macro and almost a utopian standpoint, but what is clear is that it’s not enough to fight substance trafficking by physical means, but rather that it is necessary to work hard in relation to money laundering and other problems. The threat of new substances and Internet trafficking also exists. And this must be taken into account, because the battle we are fighting now will change in the future.
What are the most effective drug policies: the ones that curb supply or demand?
I would say that neither one without the other. It wouldn’t make any sense to wait until people fall into a drug problem and then treat it. It surely wouldn’t be ethical or logical to do it that way. At the same time that pure and simple repression per se doesn’t solve all the problems.
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