The situation in Mexico and Latin America is both heartbreaking and very promising, but it is definitely polarized and it has lots of contrasts between very forward thinking progressive approaches to drug policy such as Uruguay or Bolivia that are becoming an international beacon and reference because of their radical shifts in regulation surrounding cannabis and coca leaf, and the full-frontal war on drugs that is devastating Mexico and many countries in the region, specially in Central America.
Latin America has played a central role in the global process around drug trends and the war on drugs, because of historical producing countries like Colombia and the influence of the United States that has provoked great changes in the whole region but mainly in Mexico, where we can now see the biggest production of Methamphetamine worldwide, the third in terms of Heroin and over 150,000 people that have died because of the war on drugs. In some areas within Mexico, murder is the leading cause of death for young men and drug related charges are the main cause of imprisonment for young women.
The dynamics of drug production, trafficking and use are shifting very rapidly and this has fueled radical responses, most of them very violent and paying little or no attention to harm reduction strategies; with Youth RISE Latin America we are working to change this and to include human rights and youth perspective through the full-spectrum harm reduction model to the different countries and communities across the region.
Furthermore, there is a great cultural heritage of the traditional use of Sacred plants and plant-based medicine that is proving to be one of the major catalytic change-bringers for the future, so this will be one of the key axis of the efforts that will come from here, bringing closer to our modern globalized era the potential benefits that a respectful and adequate use of this tools can bring to the people.