My name is Isaiah Edward. I identify as an 18 year old male, and I reside in Brooklyn, NY.
On Saturday July 29th, 2017, the lessons taught revolved around differing drug policy Interventions. We heard from a multiple representatives such as, Susana Ferguson, Andres Gongora, Paul Mahlstedt, and Jorge Herrera. These guests held very different perspectives on the War on Drugs and offered different reasons why certain problems had occurred and different visions of the solution to these problems The opportunity to ask any question in the world to people, such as the ones listed holds so many benefits and is a valuable resource.
This day was quite interesting for the fact that Paul Mahlstedt played a key role in the creation of Plan Colombia, while the other speakers we heard from (as well as my peers from Latin America) were against these ideals and policies. Plan Colombia was an initiative issued by the United States offering foreign aid to Colombia mainly in the form of militarization. This was intended for combating Colombian drug cartels, by reducing their drug supplies. It was necessary for us to hear both sides of the story to educate all the students properly, to gift us the correct tools to create true revolution. For the duration of the 18 day Cuernavaca Catalyst trip, a majority of the information received was from perspectives that oppose things such as Plan Colombia, mass incarceration, and the prohibition of drugs.
Being a person from the United States, I found this lesson especially vital, due to Mahlstedt's experience regarding the War on Drugs. He shared some possible alternative solutions such as drug education, supply reduction, international cooperation and more medical research.
It amazes me how others experience and position within the War on Drugs can alter ones perspective drastically. Over the past two weeks, my peers and I were networked to various activists, lawyers, journalists, artists, to even poets. The purpose of these lessons and Catalyst overall as a course was to connect the similarities, and acknowledge the differences between each other. This experience was more then discussing the historical components of the War on Drugs. It was a life experience that offered empathy, knowledge, and understanding. July 29th was just one of the 18 days that ultimately changed my life forever, and the World should know about it all.