Cocaine: substance, trafficking, morality

Frankly Speaking…

Dr Luncheon – And my Grandchild
Believe me, I had decided to explore, yet again, this issue, before I fell upon the editorial in this Tuesday’s Stabroek News.

Tilted “Bolivia’s Cocaine Conundrum” the ‘paper’s views touched on much of what I had contemplated. (“Conundrum” is even one of my favourite words!)  Of course, I’ll stick to my sometimes repetitive) presentation points.

It was during my only-ever weekend at Ambassador Karran’s residence in Caracas that I read about the coca leaf as used by the indigenous peoples of Peru.  The reading I came upon then has just been expanded upon through other resource materials and internet research.

Leaf, substance, narcotic

From Peru to Colombia to Bolivia – in fact throughout South America’s Andean countries the leaf of the coca plant has been chewed by those hinterland indigenous peoples for thousands of years.

The Coca leaf actually contains some vital nutrients, as well as alkaloids including cocaine.

Now, by itself or in combinations, cocaine is described, variously, as “a stimulant of the central nervous system; an appetite suppressant and a topical anaesthetic”.  It would take about two pages to discuss the chemical properties of cocaine and what this “crystalline tropane alkaloid” does to the human body and mind.  Up front, note that the poor Coca leaf, by itself, does little harm to anyone.  That leaf – has been chewed for centuries to give the earlier South Americans energy, strength and insulation from the cold of the Andean Mountains.

Even our traffickers would be bored by the chemical, medicinal make-up and uses of manufactured cocaine in its various forms.  Suffice to say, it was after the Europeans discovered the properties of the humble leaf, experimented with addictives to convert the coca into cocaine, that the finished drug became a medical product to do enormous good for medicine, then bad in the hand of those who would adulterate it to make it into an addictive drug craved by vulnerable minds.

From simple chewing of the original leaf, to the making of a wine (mariani), to the US manufacturer Parke-Davis’ cigarettes, powder and a mixture which Parke-Davis advertised in 1885 as “a supply to take the place of food; make the coward brave, the silent eloquent and render the sufferer insensitive to pain”, this powerful drug has been used, even in its most minute form, by Queen Victoria and a Catholic Pope!  Even the first set of Coca Cola included “a pinch of coca-leaves” (1886) though that stopped by 1906.

Addiction, illegal exploitation

Down-trodden, depressed and oppressed groups who develop weak-mindedness, a dependent slave-mentality replete with hopelessness constitute a ready “market” for a stimulant/depressant/anaesthetic like cocaine.  And when it is “cut” or made more potent into crack and other dangerous addictive forms and mixtures, it becomes the perfect psychological escape for the hapless users.  Whether they are American students, soldiers, wealthy heirs or inner-city Hispanics and Afro’s.  Yes, America leads Europe still as a market for crude cocaine.

Sometimes styled as “a recreational drug”, the powder form was worth some $70 Billion in the USA in 2005.  The States even had to reject a WHO study which stressed “The positive uses of cocaine”.
The point here is that the mischievous money-makers or tr
affickers often point to the original, even current, good uses of cocaine, as they use all management and scientific methodologies to smuggle the drug and corrupt societies so that they become and remain millionaire barons.

The powerful alkaloid, mixed with all the carbon atoms produces a bio-synthesis which in turn produces addictive properties to turn normal youth into zombies wanting more and more.  This caused the US to label coke a “narcotic” when it was not and its unauthorized use was banned there in 1914.  It was in 1970 however, that cocaine was listed in that country’s Controlled Substances Act.

Morality – Right? Wrong?

All the foregoing, brief really, serves as a background for me to preach once more, the reality of changing values.  And the new, dangerous morality.

The wicked would traffic and trade in gold, currency, cocaine and modern-day slaves to make money.  They have no soul, no sense of humanity.  In my Guyana today, too many accept cocaine as a business – product, regardless of the lives it harms.  The new buildings, cars, properties, vacations are benefits of trafficking.

So how could cocaine-trafficking be bad – in 2011, many argue.  My generation – the good, law-abiding portion – would remain poor, rather than to profit from a drug now mis-used.  Those on the other side would scoff.  But look at the effects! Discuss.

Poor Dr Luncheon (?)

My grand-daughter would dub and deem Dr Roger Luncheon Guyana’s “White House Spokesman”.  These days the venerable, powerful official government spokesman has really become the Voice of the President. Even as he shares his own views in  Court regarding what he thinks of his younger boss, His Excellency.

My grandchild admired Dr Luncheon when I explained to her that he was groomed by the iconic Dr Cheddi  Jagan himself and that he (Dr Roger) was an excellent medical doctor (who might have well saved or prolonged Forbes Burnham’s life), who turned politician then Presidential and Cabinet Chief.

However, I suspect that my grand-daughter would be extremely disappointed at the image and self-portrayal of himself being presented in the Court.  As reported weekly in the print media.

I’m not referring to his own (justified) views to which he is certainly entitled.  I mean the reported responses to the Defence Attorney’s questions on specific issues.  My grand-daughter would be amazed that the Doc claimed not to know any criteria for appointing Ambassadors; not to know if Ambassador Miles was not supported for an international office; not to recall the Head of numerous Rice Assessment Boards; not to know how long a Public Service Tribunal has been in limbo.

I expect that the spokesman/witness may choose to be procedurally/legally correct as befits a courtroom, but, Frankly Speaking, the Doctor too often cuts a sad unfortunate figure in the box.
Such a powerful political/governmental personality would now disappoint my grand-daughter. Good for her though. She knows of Dr Roger.  But she was not born, nor does not live here.


*1)  Will I get back my large deposit from the Lands people in Lodge?  Since I could not get the allocated acres actually identified?  Even as others were awarded lots?  Please for my money before elections!
*2)  Election campaign time!  Young  Bill Rogers, Shakti Strings, Jomo, Queen Makeda, Fiona, Natural Black, Hits and Jams will all get work, as professional entertainers at the Rallies.  Then they’ll vote for “their own” in November.

*3)  Some “parties” will be reluctant to hold – or afford – big political rallies.  Small crowds?  Don’t worry.  Not all at rallies actually vote.
*4)  We’ve begun to plan for Mashramani 2012. Not really in our culture to do so but the Culture Ministry has started.  Lots of plans – from getting the reluctant Private Sector to assist; the Regions and the Diwali organizers.  And there is hope for a Mashramani Museum

Til next week!


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