Drug War

After Pablo Escobar: Murder, Chaos, and the Failure of U.S. Drug Policy in Colombia

The Drug Policy Alliance's Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno talks about her new book.

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"The whole premise of the war on drugs is that if you focus on the supply side, you'll solve all of the U.S.'s problems with problematic drug use," says Maria McFarland Sánchez-Moreno, the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance. But "no matter how much money you put into fighting organized crime, there are always going to be new leaders ready to step into the shoes of those who've been arrested."

The failure of that supply-side approach is an overarching theme in McFarland's new book, There Are No Dead Here: A Story of Murder and Denial in Colombia. It recounts the bloody aftermath of cocaine trafficker Pablo Escobar's death, when the Colombian military, surviving drug lords, left-wing terrorists, and paramilitary groups vied for power. Focusing on three individuals who helped expose the atrocities and win justice, the book examines the impact of U.S. intervention in Colombia's drug trade.

Before joining the Drug Policy Alliance last September, McFarland spent over a decade as a drug policy analyst at Human Rights Watch.

Reason's Nick Gillespie sat down with McFarland recently in New York City

Edited by Mark McDaniel, graphics and introduction by Todd Krainin.

Music: Modem by Kai Engel. All music licensed under Creative Commons. (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 US.)

Photo credits: JAIVER NIETO/El Tiempo de Colombia/Newscom, Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Newscom, Tracy Barbutes/ZUMA Press/Newscom.

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