Letter: Colombian state and the drug cartels

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Sir: While Isabel Hilton's piece on the capture of Pablo Escobar Gaviria, 'The king is dead . . . long live cocaine' (11 December), was a more comprehensive and accurate account than most, we write regarding the way in which the Colombian government and the media have reported on the 'war against drug trafficking' and the death of Pablo Escobar.

We don't understand why the death of a man like Escobar was given so much coverage, while other cases, like the multiple massacres and murders that are committed every day by the Colombian armed forces and police against the civil population, are not afforded the least importance in the media, even though such acts have been denounced by leading national and international human rights organisations.

The death of Pablo Escobar does not signal the end of drug trafficking. In Colombia, the United States and Europe other people have always had more power than Escobar. Besides, such a profitable activity will never be wiped out with repression in the countries of production as long as nothing is done in the countries of consumption, or with the banks that launder drugs money, or with the producers of precursor chemicals.

The 'war against drug trafficking' and the death of Pablo Escobar are just ways of justifying the repressive policies of the Colombian government directed against social, union and political opposition, which result in thousands of dead, internally displaced people and political prisoners.

Neither in Colombia, nor in the world, is there a real interest in combating international drug trafficking. Rather those who fall out of favour with those in power are persecuted and thus the criminal organisations are 'purged and contained'. This is the explanation given for the death of Pablo Escobar and other minor drug traffickers, while the national cartels remain protected by the state.

Yours faithfully,

NORBERTO SERNA

President

The Colombian Committee for Human Rights

London, SE1

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