Launching of RIPRED Argentina

RIPRED 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.

Dr. Camillo Verruno and Claudio Mate spoke strongly in support of effective counter drug strategies and prevention. Dr. Verruno expressed his clear opposition to harm reduction policies.

Graciela Roemer, 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 program.

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.

There were 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.

In addition, 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.

I have recommended that a Forjando Liderazgo training for the network members be held before long.

Stephanie Haynes, DPNA President.

Category: Drug News