If this is the ’80s, an attack and then a retaliation between two Central American nations – specifically Nicaragua And Honduras– Nothing will be noticeable. The neighboring country mentioned above, El SalvadorIt was the site of a bloody battle known as Iran-Contra on that day.
The “elevator high pitch” for those who missed it was kind of, from a North American perspective anyway, Vietnam, 80’s version, with some hemispheric fluctuations. It also spawned a lot of action movies set a little south of the Mexican border, featuring actors featured in such timeless titles, half-dressed, with tattered bodies of all races, endless repertoire, a great deal of violence in and a lot of delicate and hard-to-replace. Vegetation. Not to mention human life.
As with most skirmishes, in addition to the blazing cold wars, they were bloody, and there were issues on all sides, although human rights-type “atrocities” occurred less frequently in Nicaragua. Internationally, the conflict came to represent the political side I was on. Contras, including both illegally and covertly, were supported under the Reagan administration, in part by highly “creative” and illegal drug deals. Daniel Ortega, the current President of Nicaragua, led the resistance in his country and survived to grow up children and lead the country by winning democratic elections.
Here is the recent update. In this unique and unprecedented piece of cannabis legalization history, one of Ortega’s sons has now declared that cannabis normalization must be “discussed” at the federal level.
There are many ironies in this story other than the father and son theme. Both sides in the wars in El Salvador and Nicaragua were accused of promoting illegal drugs to raise money to fund what was in fact a regional civil war. The Russians may not have secretly funded Ortega, but no one in the Soviet political echelons was called a nosebleed on the rug of Congress for corrupt and criminal drug behavior, or drug-for-arms trade. On the other hand, see Oliver North. Case closed.
For cannabis legalization to explode now, not only in Honduras, as it did this week, but Nicaragua as well speaks volumes about the international trend of the old drug war, if not the new one.
Race to the bottom
As has been widely expected since Uruguay’s recreational move nine years ago, it was only a matter of time before cannabis reform began to radically alter economies (for good and bad). While yes, the climate in this region of the world is considered “perfect” for cannabis, it is also just as important if not more important for the rapidly disappearing places and biodiversity called rainforests.
Outdoor farming, as discussed as an option in Honduras, will, in almost all likelihood, trigger a new wave of deforestation.
The same is true in Nicaragua – although there is a stark contrast to what is happening across the border in the other “left-leaning” government now in power in Honduras. Here, the country’s first female president, with Castro’s last name, is currently listening to conflicting advice on the issue from her husband (who is also a former president) and Vice President, the former Honduran PepsiCo CEO also known fondly (or not) as El señor de la Televisionaka Elon Musk’s traditional media version, at least in his immediate local geography.
In Nicaragua, Juan Carlos Ortega Murillo, as well as the son of the Vice President Rosario MurilloThey publicly claimed that their version of the legalization should include provisions for the welfare of citizens. This means that the government believes that a fully regulated industry is possible in the first place.
Another interesting point that was raised was whether hemp production would outperform the crops most important for the country’s security – that is, self-sufficient food cultivation. Food sovereignty is an important mantra of government here — as it might become elsewhere as the war in Ukraine raises world prices for grains and certain types of cooking oil.
These are extremely difficult questions in a part of the world where such deep-rooted economic problems cannot be answered easily. And while the debate has taken other forms in North America, it has not been completely absent from debate in the United States or Canada either. This starts with the level of energy required to keep indoor pot farms running, as well as water in certain states, starting with California.
Of course, there is almost no way that a small farmer can completely control a small farmer growing a small lawn of cannabis for personal and family use (anywhere for that matter). Medical (or recreational) cannabis use is not something that should be prohibited to the poor as it is in many Western economies today.
However, this is a slightly different discussion. Large-scale illegal farming in rainforests does more damage in the short and long term than almost anywhere else in the world. There are rapidly shrinking patches of rainforest on Earth, and hemp, for all its amazing qualities, shouldn’t be responsible for wiping out biodiversity. Even from himself.
Asking such questions in the midst of a massive global crisis, and by countries in this part of the world with a tragic track record to date, is noteworthy – rather historical.
Perhaps ruderalis species exist in both countries that may discourage disadvantaged and criminals from using virgin lands and other valuable resources to support legitimate or illicit trade. But this argument, unfortunately, has been repeatedly lost before.
Towards an environmentally sustainable global footprint?
Unlike anywhere else on the planet at the moment, the battle over reform in Central and Latin America is now beginning to put tough questions in the most powerful and central spotlight that global industry has largely avoided thus far.
Legalization of cannabis, of course, is a long-awaited global emergency. But no matter how urgent it may be, it is crucial, especially at this juncture, that entire countries not destroy their environments or economies to produce a factory that is rapidly being commodified all over the world.
Much trade and the hottest kinds of wars (anyone in Ukraine?) were fought over equally precious resources. Cannabis, regardless of its other healing properties, should not be one of them.