By Open Democracy and Dawn Paley.

“This is a policy of the government: to clear us off the territory that is ours, as campesinos and indigenous peoples, because there are many indigenous communities who have their lands taken away by war, by the terror that they instill in the communities to remove us from our territory so that they can come and extract natural resources” – Fernando Roa, farmer and vice president of Santo Domingo’s communal action council.

openDemocracy: The way we talk about the ‘war on drugs’ seems to extend from endless debates around prohibition and decriminalisation in policy circles, all the way down to the lurid stories of narcos and cartel violence, which fill the shelves of airport bookshops. But Fernando Roa suggests that there is another, deeper dynamic at play here – what’s the story we are missing out?

Dawn Paley: My book Drug War Capitalism proposes a break with official discourse on the US-backed drug wars in Mexico, central America and Colombia. I interviewed Fernando Roa and others from his community in Arauca, Colombia, in early 2014. In the book, voices like theirs are brought to life and contrast with a narrative that some of us are more familiar with – the official version of the war on drugs. My aim was to try and formulate a people-centred critique of the US-backed war on drugs, which locates this war in the broader context of capitalism and US hegemony in the hemisphere.

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