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Award-winning investigative journalist (and dad) Peter Gorman has spent more than 20 years tracking down stories from the streets of Manhattan to the slums of Bombay. Specializing in Drug War issues, he is credited as a primary journalist in the medical marijuana and hemp movements, as well as in property forfeiture reform. His work has appeared in over 100 national and international magazines and newspapers.

Peter Gorman's love affair with the Amazon jungle is well-known to people in the field. Since 1984 Mr. Gorman has spent a minimum of three months annually there generally using Iquitos
Peru as his base. During that time he has studied ayahuasca the visionary healing vine of the jungle with his friend the curandero Julio Jerena. He has collected artifacts for the American Museum of Natural History botanical specimens for Shaman Pharmaceuticals and herpetological specimens for the FIDIA Research Institute of the University of Rome. His description of the indiginous Matses Indians’ use of the secretions of the phyllomedusa bicolor frog has opened an entire field devoted to the use of amphibian peptides as potential medicines in Western medicine.

Drug War Follies - Skunk Magazine Issue #11

Oh what a tangled web we weave,
When first we practice to deceive!
Sir Walter Scott, Marinon, 1808

Into the abyss we go. Deeper and deeper down a darkened hole. A series of apparently unconnected events—based largely on the lie of fighting the Drug War—have recently occurred in Colombia, which, when strung together into a single skein may cost thousands of Colombians their lives and tens of thousands more their homes and nobody seems to have noticed.

by Peter Gorman

Don’t run away just ‘cause I started with a touch of class for once. There’s a reason for that quote being at the top of this column. It’s there because the last domino in a line of several has just fallen and by the time it stops moving it will have cost thousands of Colombian peasants and Indigenous will have lost their lives and tens of thousands more their lands. And only dopes like me didn’t see it until Vanna White had pretty much turned over every letter on the damned board!

During the past several years, five apparently separate events have taken place involving Colombia that are actually quite interrelated: The first was that during the late 1990s, massive oil resources were discovered in the southern areas of Colombia predominantly controlled by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) the leftist rebels who’ve been waging a civil war for 40 years. The second is that Colombia and the US have been working on a Free Trade Agreement which just passed this past February 27. Third, last year Colombian President Alvaro Uribe successfully pressured the Colombian Congress into writing an amendment to the Colombian Constitution that will allow him to run for a second consecutive term. The fourth occurred in early March, 2006, when General Mario Montoya Uribe (no relation to the president) was put in charge of the Colombian military. The fifth and last domino fell in late March, 2006, when 50-members of the FARC were indicted (with huge rewards placed on their heads) by the US government for alleged massive cocaine trafficking. While many will see these as separate events, they’re probably better seen as separate pieces of a complex puzzle.
Until the massive oil reserves were discovered in Putumayo and other provinces held by the FARC, the FARC were permitted to control a large portion of southern Colombia as an autonomous zone—as long as they stayed within their zone, the Colombian government wouldn’t send its military in after them. All that changed with the discovery of the oil, which shortly thereafter led to Plan Colombia and the disastrous spraying of the herbicide glyphosate, which has been raining down on the jungle and villages in southern Colombia for several years now. While some saw the frequently errant spraying—which hit more jungle than coca plants—as accidental, the truth probably lies in that it is impossible to get a good satellite read on the location of oil beneath the ground surface when the surface is covered with trees. The spraying cleared huge swaths of that jungle cover and