Saturday, August 29, 2009

The War on Drugs is a War on People

by James McEnteer, Cochabamba, Bolivia

Can theater succeed where diplomacy has failed? In August, artists from Skid Row Los Angeles teamed with Bolivian actors to perform a play about the War on Drugs throughout Bolivia. Drug issues have strained relations between the United States and Bolivia in recent years. And the “war” against drugs has claimed many victims in both countries. The idea of the tour was to see if the drug war play might stimulate ordinary citizens of the two countries to find common ground and create a more constructive dialog than their governments.
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As Malpede told a Bolivian audience after one performance: “We work in the poorest part of Los Angeles, where people come when they have no place else to go and end up living in the streets. Our project lives and works in an area affected by drugs. It was the anger of Los Angeles citizens – that the CIA might have been involved in smuggling crack cocaine into the country – that sparked these legislative hearings. These hearings are also a metaphor for all things the U.S. government does all around the world that they shouldn’t, instead of taking care of their own people.”

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