Drug Prevention Network of the Americas (DPNA)/ Red Interamericana para la Prevención de las Drogas (RIPRED), is a catalyst and sponsor for conferences and initiatives focusing on drug prevention education, the establishment of drug prevention networks and community anti-drug coalitions, and the promotion of positive, healthy, drug-free norms and attitudes in society. As a standard-bearer against drug legalization, DPNA/RIPRED believes that, along with anti-drug laws, policies, and media messages, national and international drug prevention networks and strong community drug prevention coalitions are the answer to changing public attitudes and reducing the availability of harmful, illicit drugs. This goal is accomplished through a campaign entitled Forjando Liderazgo (Forging Leadership). Over 75 training programs under this campaign have been conducted in numerous cities in 16 countries throughout Latin America and the Caribbean during the period of September 2002 through August 2009. These trainings have impacted an estimated 20,000 participants and their communities and were made possible through the utilization of services of The International Task Force on Strategic Drug Policy, led by International Program Coordinator, Professor Mina Seinfeld de Carakushansky of Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.Drug Prevention Network of the Americas (DPNA/RIPRED), a network that focuses on prevention, interdiction and coalition building efforts in Latin America and the Caribbean, has been well established with more than ten years of grass roots work in some of the most adversely affected regions of Latin America. This network provides the opportunity to work with local partners in the region to focus on messaging and programs that can be tailored to the country and city in which the training is conducted.
Many of the participants report that it is through Forjando Liderazgo that they are able to better understand the scope of the drug problem and the realities and challenges of other countries in dealing with drug demand reduction issues. It is through this information exchange that they draw upon positive examples to gain international resources for their work and gain a global perspective of the problem. Through the examples and success stories of collaboration highlighted in Forjando Liderazgo seminars, many participants have become active members of the university network of the State Universities as well as members of the parents’ networks. This collaboration and networking throughout Latin America has done a great deal to further drug demand reduction efforts.
It was through Forjando Liderazgo that the idea of Preventive Cities came to fruition and was spread around the continent of South America. Preventive Cities is a concept that developed through a focus on a truly comprehensive approach to drug demand reduction, from the smallest town to the largest city. If the local government, school system, social services organizations, parent groups and/ or others work together to reject drug use, trafficking and sales in their community, they can have a tremendous impact. This endeavor has developed over the years and has become the initiative of Mayors, city councils and other concerned groups who want to keep their communities safe and drug free. This model program has spread, and due to close and continuous relationships with the leaders of many Latin American cities, a relatively significant number of those cities have already adopted this concept. The most prolific examples of Preventive Cities’ achievements are from Argentina and from Ecuador and in many cities throughout Latin America, formal documents have been signed and intentions of joint work have been expressed with great enthusiasm. This process is an ongoing one that is integral to the work of Forjando Liderazgo and requires close follow-up and guidance in many instances, with great participation of the local leaders involved.