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From the first frame this definitive documentary ties the blithe
recreational use of cocaine, “a bit of good fun”, to the global realities of
its “dirty supply chain”. With unprecedented access to all the major players
in the War on Drugs, from Presidents to drug mules, Cocaine Unwrapped
challenges preconceptions and begs compassion.
On Balitmore’s Reservoir Hill the boarded up lots speak of the death of an
inner city, where rampant drug dealing in broad daylight is now the only
industry. Cruising the streets with a veteran police officer Neill Franklin
we sense the urgent need for change in drug policy, since “A criminal
conviction will follow you for the rest of your life”. In Baltimore’s prison
a crack dealer doing 25 years for his crimes, will have no life left to go
Cut to the jungles of Colombia and the massive police effort to disrupt
production. The madness of aerial spraying is borne out in the blanket
destruction of impoverished farmers’ crops. “Everything’s dead” says farmer
Maria, from papaya to chocolate, banana to yucca. The medical damage of
fumigation is driving migration to the cities and we hear from its many
critics in both Colombia and the US. In fact fumigation appears to be
driving desperate farmers to produce coca, a fact ignored by Colombia’s
President who blames demand in Western Europe.
Contrast this with the stand taken by Bolivian President Evo Morales, who
brandished the coca leaf at the UN and expresses deep pride in this
traditional crop grown since the Incas. Turning his back on the
militarisation of coca eradication, Morales took the step of legalising
“traditional consumption”. With Morales’ “peaceful, negotiated reduction”
Bolivia’s coca farmers are unionised and, unlike those in Colombia,
Meanwhile dead bodies line the streets of Mexio’s Juarez, victims of drug
violence in this transit town. Mass graves of unidentified victims lie next
to empty graves ready to be filled. Gang members and dealers explain their
lack of escape routes from the death squads. People here have lost faith in
the army, infiltrated by the cartels and perpetrating human rights abuses.
The violence threatens the Mexican state itself and its streets are full of
crack-addicted kids who “wish quitting was as easy as buying”.
In Ecuador we hear stories of female drug mules like Theresa, imprisoned for
their crimes, never to see their children grow up. In the prisons 75% are
women. It’s a plight so hopeless that Ecuador’s President Correra has drawn
a distinction between the powerful and the powerless in the drug trade and
pardoned many mules. It’s a rare second chance for those caught up in the
failed War on Drugs, and a clarion call for a new, more progressive
The film gives voice to those campaigning for us in the West to take real
responsibility for our drugs problem and exposes the human cost of one of
the most popular drugs on Europe’s streets.
“A highly topical documentary…with fascinating interviews [which] make us
aware of the West’s need to take more responsibility for the demand that
drives the trade.’ TimeOut
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