Latin America on the Rise

Congressman Sam Farr hosts a monthly Congressional briefing series called Latin America on the Rise, which brings in a diverse array of perspectives to highlight emerging and emergent issues in the Western Hemisphere. Prior panelists include Roberta Jacobson, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Department of State; António Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Maura O’Neil, Chief Innovation Officer, USAID; and Ambassador Carmen Lomellin, US Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States.


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Upcoming Briefing:

Drug Policy in Latin America 
10:00 am, Thursday, May 29th
Congressional Meeting Room South
Capitol Visitors Center
Drugs have a staggering impact on the economic and social fabric of Latin America:
  • The UN estimates annual drug revenues in the Americas at $150 billion;
  • In Mexico, the drug trade has cost some 60,000 lives from 2006-2012;
  • In Colombia, one of the world’s primary cocaine producers, the US has spent over $8 billion on Plan Colombia, much aimed at combating left- and right-wing armed groups profiting from drug trafficking;
  • In Brazil, Argentina, Chile, and Uruguay, the increase of smokeable cocaine usage domestically has become a public health problem; and
  • Studies suggest that across Latin America, 70% of women in prison are there for trafficking offenses.
Not surprisingly, drug policy change is underway in the Hemisphere. In 2013, Uruguay became the first country in the world to legalize marijuana. Bolivia’s ‘coca yes, cocaine no’ campaign legalized coca leaf production for licit uses and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos opened up a debate about legalizing marijuana. However, many countries still remain resistant to change.
Please join Congressman Farr at 10:00 am on Thursday, May 29th to discuss the current state of drug policy in Latin America and potential implications for US policy.
Ambassador Paul Simons
Executive Secretary, Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission
Organization of American States
John Walsh
Senior Associate for Drug Policy & the Andes
Washington Office on Latin America
Vanda Felbab-Brown
Senior Fellow
Clare Ribando Seelke
Specialist in Latin American Affairs
Congressional Research Service