Argentina was launched on June 30, 2005 in Buenas Aires.
The event was held at the Congreso Nacional hosted by
Deputy Sra. Maria del Carmen Rico, and sponsored by
CONVIVIR, El REPARO, CAPLA and UPCN.
There were a
number of key elected officials and government leaders,
including Secretary Dr. Jose Granero; SEDRONAR; Dr.
Camilo Verruno, SEDRONAR; Claudio Mate, SubSecretary on
Addictions; Lila Vazquez, Minister of International Drug
Affairs; Dianne Graham, US Embassy. Approximately 75
people were in attendance.
Verruno and Claudio Mate spoke strongly in support of
effective counter drug strategies and prevention. Dr.
Verruno expressed his clear opposition to harm reduction
a public relations specialist, gave a most interesting
analogy about the disconnect between people’s attitudes
about the drug problem, which is low on the list of
concerns, and the drug problem which is actually serious
and growing more so. She committed herself to work with
the media and others to raise awareness about this
issue. Others indicated interest in joining the network
and to help develop a strategy for the network.
On behalf of DPNA,
I welcomed them to the international network and
commended them for their leadership. Dr. Mina
Carakushansky also spoke on the Forjando Liderazgo
The organizers of
RIPRED Argentina are Florencia Di Masi, CONVIVIR,
Guillermo Batista, UPCN, a labor union working in
prevention, Ernesto Gonzalez, CAPLA, drug free
workplace programs, and Elsa Gervasio, with El REPARA,
a treatment program. CONVIVIR celebrated its 20th
anniversary during the week and received excellent media
coverage in La Nacion.
I also had the
opportunity to meet at the Labor Union office of UPCN
and to learn about the impressive work that they are
doing through Prevention Centers throughout the country.
They admitted that although they belong to a different
political party then the other network organizers, that
they see great value in this collaborative effort for
the benefit of the country. And that working with drug
prevention organizations they believe will strengthen
their programs and benefit workers in the work place.
I visited El
Repara a treatment center in San Miguel, outside of
Buenos Aires. I was extremely impressed with their
program which includes therapy, academic education, and
life skills, and what I heard and learned from the young
people. This program should be replicated throughout the
country and elsewhere. El Reparo also received great
coverage in the press.
I met with
Guillermo Fernandez with USAL, who is working with us
to further Forjando Liderazgo throughout Latin America,
and I commended him for his excellent work. It was a
pleasure to be there with
I also had the
opportunity to meet with Dianne Graham, press officer at
the Embassy. She had worked at INL and was very
knowledgeable about drug issues, and was very supportive
and helpful with the RIPRED event.
headlines about increased cocaine use in Argentina; and
worries about drug traffickers and producers moving into
Argentina; and rumors of an Al Quaeda presence in
trafficking in the region.
there was a lengthy article in the Buenos Aires Herald
–about an upcoming conference on drug policies by
INTERCAMBIOS, people who support alternative strategies
with topics such as human rights and drug users,
critique of the United Nations drug policies.
INTERCAMBIOS is headed by Pablo Cymerman with a focus on
advocacy and the media and is supported from the TIDES
Foundation from New York. The title of the article is “Anti
drug drive: looking for new solutions to old problems”
and it is not too hard to read between the lines in
this article to know that this group are definitely harm
reductionists. One of the national representatives at
the RIPRED event told Florencia Di Masi that she had
attended one of their conferences, but was now aware and
opposed to the harm reduction agenda.
The good news
from Argentina is that there is now a commitment to
build a national demand reduction network, which has the
support of key officials and community leaders
throughout the country. They are just beginning to build
the network and have high hopes that RIPRED Argentina
will have an important and broad presence in Argentina.
recommended that a Forjando Liderazgo training for the
network members be held before long.