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Revolution and Counter-Reform: The Paradoxes of Drug Policy in Bolivarian Venezuela

Authors: Andrés Antillano, Verónica Zubillaga, Keymer Ávila,

Publish Date: 2016
Volume: , Issue:, Pages: 105-122
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This chapter discusses recent changes in Venezuelan drug policy. We note that, despite the anti-imperialist discourse and the rejection of the policies resulting in the criminalization of poverty, the ruling political group in Venezuela has, in recent decades deepened the strategy of the War on Drugs, fueled by Washington, implementing legal changes and hardening the agency’s resistance to the winds of reform blowing in the region. This model is an instrument of US control in the hemisphere and a mechanism to deepen the exclusion of the poor by way of their criminalization. We suggest some possible explanations for this retrograde rotation of drug policy in the context of an anti-imperialist and left wing government: The persistence of a conservative discourse by the left on the subject, attributing the increase in crime to drugs; the role of the army in the War on Drugs; the US’s accusations of drug involvement to discredit leftist governments in the region; and the attempts by the Venezuelan government to defend against such allegations. Finally, we will attempt to demonstrate how the rhetoric of the War on Drugs, displaces social processes and conflicts and legitimizes symbolic solutions associated with tough policies, at the same time that these punitive measures become an effective means of control of those sectors of the poor who are left out of social inclusion policies.



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