The Drug War Roadshow
Interactive Educational Theater Exploring the "Drug War" in Colombia and the US
What Is The Drug War Roadshow?
The Drug War Roadshow combines classic popular education tools (skits, puppets and humor) with rare on-the-ground digital images that examine the human impacts of US Drug Policy abroad. The Roadshow invites audiences to question the efficacy of the United States’ 25-year old, $25 billion Drug War through provocative questions, interactive games and good ole’ fashioned finger-pointing (just kidding!). DWR believes we all should have a say in how we approach drug and crime reduction in our communities and our foreign policy.
Why The Drug War? Why A Roadshow? Why Colombia? Why Now?
Are you worried about drugs in your community? Are you or someone you love one of the thousands imprisoned for non-violent drug offenses? Know anyone whose family life has been devastated by a drug addiction? Have you ever questioned how drugs got to your neighborhood in the first place, or wondered why, after all these years hearing about a War on Drugs, there seem to be just as many drugs as ever?
We sure have.
Since 2000, the US has sent over $5 billion dollars to Colombia as part of the War on Drugs. $1 billion of that money has gone to finance the aerial fumigation of coca (the raw ingredient for cocaine). Fumigations have displaced thousands of poor Colombian farmers, destroyed food crops as well as the sole income potential for rural Colombians, and generated unknown environmental and human health damages. To the astonishment of US politicians who backed Plan Colombia, there has been no change in the price, purity or availability of cocaine on America’s streets since “we began helping” in 2000. Meanwhile, at home the Drug War rages on. The US currently has the largest prison population in the world (including half a million people jailed for non-violent drug offenses), drug crimes continue to plague our communities and drug addicts often can’t get into treatment programs, which have been shown to be more effective in reducing the amount of drugs that enter the US.
The Drug War is serious. Luckily, learning about it can be fun! You’ll laugh as we trace the money driving the Drug War and pull your hair out as we strategize together about how to build a more humane drug policy at home and abroad.
How Do I Bring The Drug War Roadshow To My University/ Church/ Union/ Community Group?
The Roadshow is a community resource tool that prioritizes work with US-Americans (remember, people in South and Central America are Americans too!) who have been most affected by the domestic Drug War. While we smile humming along with “the choir,” DWR encourages local hosts to use the Roadshow to deepen community networks. Co-sponsorship of events is strongly encouraged to help generate a diverse and representative audience! DWR caters each show to your organization/locale and will provide you with event outreach material and related resources to help make your event a historic community gathering. Fundraising goals are determined on a sliding scale basis.
Aren’t Puppets for Kids? Is The Roadshow Appropriate for Academics and Intellectuals?
The Drug War Roadshow, much like a documentary, play or lecture, is an opportunity to share knowledge and create dialogue. It is absolutely appropriate for universities and groups of people with high levels of formal education. It is also appropriate for mechanics, grocery store clerks, musicians, farm workers, kids and anyone excited about actively participating in their own education. Across cultures and for centuries, puppeting has been used by sophisticated grown-ups as a form of art, satire, social critique and entertainment.
“I didn’t even realize I was thinking, like how I think when I read a book, because I was so engaged. I had never been ‘taught’ like that before,” said one DWR participant. That’s part of the plan. Brazilian popular education theorist Pablo Freire critiqued the more common “banking model” of education (where an all-knowing teacher/presenter transmits knowledge to her students), arguing for a liberating educational model that respects both teacher and students’ lived experiences and imaginatively engages with all participants. Building on his teachings, the DWR presents an opportunity for all people, regardless of race, class, or educational background, to learn and dialogue about the Drug War. That’s part of why we encourage you to do creative event outreach--the more diverse a group you assemble, the more dynamic the Roadshow becomes.
Who Is Facilitating The Drug War Roadshow?
Drug War Roadshow facilitator Liza Smith is currently the Fellowship of Reconciliation Colombia Program National Organizer for the campaign to end US military aid and intervention in Colombia. Liza has been working to change US policy towards Colombia and build transnational communities between Colombia and the US through delegations, community organizing and accompaniment work since 2000.
Drug War Roadshow creator Nikki Thanos has worked in Latin America on cross-border drug policy and trade issues since 2000 and is currently going to law school in New Orleans.
After creating and touring the road show in 2006, she has offered the Road Show to be used by any and all as a pop education tool. We are very grateful to Nikki for her original creative inspiration.