Author: Francisco Arias Fernández
January 24, 2018 22:01:42
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
A young Canadian with untidy blond hair and faded blue eyes walks back and forth between both ends of a boulevard in downtown Ottawa, the capital of one of the world’s richest countries, begging for money to buy marijuana. In Montevideo, Uruguay, a crazy-looking young man of about 25 offers to work as a car parking attendant for a pittance, enough so he can buy a joint. In Central American capital cities, car drivers waiting for the traffic lights to change get besieged by children eight or nine years of age performing as fire-eaters or simply holding out their hands to beg for charity on behalf of their parents, who lie hidden nearby as they wait for the “prize” to buy drugs and food.
Back in December, Brasilia’s political center was all but occupied by security forces and foreign journalists, all waiting for the arrival of a new president who would take office the following day. A few meters from the Foreign Ministry, one of the venues of the inauguration, a taxi driver warned his passengers not to roll down the windows to take pictures because of the gangs of “dope-smoking” teenagers could appear out of the blue to mug tourists.
These are personal stories, not hearsay or exaggerations. Besides, they are not isolated cases in today’s world or in the countries where I witnessed them.
Felipe met his Spanish wife through a friend who rents out his apartment in Havana. He moved to Barcelona, leaving behind his eight-year-old daughter and his parents. In his new country, he started to consume and smoke synthetic marijuana or whatever he could get his hands on. After some time, while on a visit to Cuba and a week before his return trip, he was caught in possession of small amounts of the narcotic that he had got from a dealer. He ended up in prison, which also brought a lot of suffering and trauma to his child and loved ones.
Cuban internationalist doctors cry as they share stories of children in Paraguay, Brazil, Bolivia or other South American nations who show symptoms of marijuana consumption from an early age, and others who died in their arms because they could not get any marijuana and decided to sniff paint thinners, gasoline or strychnine.
A Uruguayan psychologist, who provides therapeutic services to slum areas in Tijuana, on the U.S. border, described in his doctoral thesis, which he defended at the University of Havana, how his patients take advantage of the legalization of marijuana in southwestern U.S. states to cross the border and get a marijuana prescription for stress treatment, a sure way to maintain their addiction as they get gradually worse, both physically and mentally.
Far from tackling your ailments or bringing you benefits, he remarked, making that drug legal has boosted its use and multiplied health problems in those regions.
Similar findings were disclosed last October in a study by the French National Institute for Advanced Studies in Security and Justice (INHESJ) and the French Monitoring Center for Drugs and Drug Addiction (OFGT) about the impact of cannabis regulation on U.S. states and in Uruguay.
According to the study, “the regulated sale of marijuana in special pharmacies has led to a nationwide rising trend in all indicators for use in Uruguay and has had no significant effects on the black market”. Legalization in the U.S. has brought forth a noticeable rise in consumption, particularly among occasional and regular users aged 25 or over.
Also underlined in the study is “a major rise in hospital admissions related to presumed cannabis intoxication in two North American States” (Colorado and Washington State).
The World Health Organization (WHO) came to the conclusion in 1948 that the consumption of cannabis (marijuana, hashish and hashish oil) was dangerous from every point of view, be it physical, mental or social. More recently added to the list are the so-called synthetic cannabinoids (synthetic or laboratory marijuana), even more harmful.
Experts remark that the symptoms of marijuana intoxication appear more slowly and take longer to go away. Not only that, but that it can trigger very serious mental disorders. Its most common and socially detrimental effect is the so-called affective or amotivational syndrome, characterized by severe detachment from reality, not unlike the kind related to serious forms of schizophrenia.[Marijuana use] impairs our thoughts, causes memory and concentration problems and tampers with learning. It also delays reaction time with visual and auditory stimuli, disrupts time perception and hinders coordination. It also causes bronchitis and lung cancer in a much larger proportion than smoking. Moreover, it is known to affect our sex life and reproductive capacity, not only because of the resulting dissociation but also the reduction of our hormonal level and sperm motility that it brings with it. Marijuana consumption also has catastrophic consequences on addicted mothers, such as congenital deformities and premature births.
Furthermore, it paves the way for lack of coordination and balance, tachycardia, conjunctival injection (bloodshot eyes), dry mouth and throat syndrome, and drowsiness, as well as death by heart arrhythmia.
Marijuana is young people’s gateway drug and a springboard to the abyss of other even more dangerous substances.
In Europe there has been evidence since the 1970s of a consumption cycle that starts with marijuana and then leads to other more harmful substances like LSD, heroin or morphine. None of them bring a happy end, for they either blow you out or kill you.
FIVE FACTS ABOUT MARIJUANA:
Source: Interview granted to journalist Lisandra Fariñas xcby Dr. Ricardo A. González Menéndez, a consultant with the Integrated Addiction Treatment Service of Havana’s Psychiatric Hospital and chairman of the National Medical Ethics Commission.
By Manuel E. Yepe
Exclusive for the daily POR ESTO! of Merida, Mexico.
A CubaNews translation edited by Walter Lippmann.
A good friend of mine who has been living in the United States for many years,
whom I consider an excellent analyst of international political issues, tells me that former President James Carter recognized, just a few months ago, that it was his mistake not to have completed the process of normalization of relations with Cuba during his term in the White House.
The subject came up in light of the indication that, in his view, for more than two months, Trump’s destructive drive against relations with Cuba has entered a new phase. The momentum seems to have lost steam in the sense that there have been no new hostile actions. The farce of the “sonic attacks” was officially frozen, and the bilateral meetings and specific negotiations that began before Trump are being resumed.
According to my friend, “it is as if the course towards the collision was being reconsidered, giving way to a kind of temporary truce, or towards a certain arrangement or new modus vivendi.” This is not the first time an approach of this type has turned up in the policy options that appear at the level of the executive branch by way of proposals.
In 1979, Robert Pastor, assistant and very close advisor to Zbigniew Brzezinski, himself advisor to US President Lyndon Johnson between 1966 and 1968 —when describing several proposals on Cuba— introduced the notion of “Cool but Communicative”. This meant that Washington should maintain communication channels with Havana, but at the same time, should be tightening a siege around Cuba’s neck.
Could this apparent temporary truce be a new version of the “Cool but Communicative” style or —considering the different context that sustains Cuba’s international position? Could it as well the domestic support in the United States for normalization of ties with the Island— a move towards a low profile modus vivendi, that might bring stability?
Of course, the siege that Pastor talked about then was set in a very different context from today’s. The governments of Canada and of all Latin America are aligned in favor of the normalization of trade and cooperation with Cuba.
The Prime Minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, visited Cuba and promotes relations with his country. South Korea has become an important commercial partner of Cuba and their positions are approaching normalization.
The European Union advances in the Political Dialogue and Cooperation Agreement with Cuba, after three visits to Havana by Federica Mogherini, the High Foreign Policy Representative and Vice President of the European Union.
Just a few days ago, Trump met with the Prime Minister of Norway, a country that has cooperated closely with Cuba for years in the peace process in Colombia. Without these players on the oppressor´s side, there is no possible siege; the position of all of them contradicts the course announced by Trump in Miami last June 16.
I do not share the forecast that Trump’s policy towards Cuba includes a cooling and temporary truce in its aggressiveness. That is not what becomes apparent, among many other things, after the announcement of the setting up of a new Internet Task Force aimed at subverting Cuba’s internal order. This assumes the continuity of failed Cold War policies and the blockade as part of the doctrine of Unconventional Warfare that have proven inoperative against the concept of All Peoples’ War on which the Island bases its defense readiness.
On the other hand, I do fully agree as to how influential a majority opinion can be in favor of the normalization when it is supported by important pressure groups and American economic interests agreeable to a low profile modus Vivendi. This option runs contrary to the one Marco Rubio has been working for with his spectacular farce of sonic attacks and inconsequential senatorial hearings against Cuba.
The coming electoral victory in socialist Cuba will bring continuity to the revolutionary process on the Island. It will stimulate peoples throughout Latin America to continue their struggle for self-determination against the designs of the local oligarchies and the imperialist hegemony of the United States.
The presidential victory of the Chilean right wing led by Santiago Piñera could not silence a remarkable rise of the center-left forces represented by the novel example of the Frente Amplio (Broad Front). Additional factors will include: the return of Lula and the Workers’ Party in Brazil, MORENA with López Obrador in Mexico, the almost certain victory of Maduro and the United Socialist Party in Venezuela, in the face of an atomized opposition backed by all the resources of the US empire; the undoubted victory of Evo in Bolivia. Finally, there are Macri´s crisis in Argentina, the uncertain outcome in Colombia and the return of the left in Paraguay, are the most commented scenarios of in Latin America’s patriotic struggle in 2018.
January 25, 2018