Colombia's vice president has it out for coke-snorting celebrities, targeting people like supermodel Kate Moss who he said are directly financing his country's violent, drug-fueled civil conflict.
"Cocaine not only destroys you, it also destroys a country," is the theme of a hard-hitting Colombian-led advertising campaign designed to change attitudes among Europeans about their booming cocaine habit in the same way that "Just Say No" did in the US.
Moss herself doesn't appear in the ads, but Vice President Francisco Santos said she's a perfect example of liberal European attitudes toward drug use -- she's enjoyed a career comeback even after a British tabloid published photos of her apparently snorting cocaine.
"To me its baffling, that somebody who helps cause so much pain in Colombia is doing better than ever and winning more contracts than ever," Santos said in an interview.
"And I never once heard her say, `I'm sorry.' When in Colombia, policeman, judges, journalists, common men and women are dying every day because of [cocaine consumption] that hurts," the official added.
Santos said he'd love Moss to see what cocaine consumption does to Colombia, where drug-financed armed groups murder hundreds annually and force thousands to abandon their homes.
A spokeswoman at Storm, Moss's modeling agency in London, did not immediately return a call and e-mail seeking comment.
Colombia hired New York-based advertising agency Lowe Worldwide to design its "cocaine curse" campaign, which Santos was to unveil in London yesterday along with 11 European drug czars.
"We need to tell Europeans that that line of coke they snort is tainted in blood," Santos said.
One ad depicts a pinstriped "coke head" -- with an oversized nose -- laying land mines in a coca field. Colombia now ranks first in the world in land-mine casualties, averaging four a day. Another shows him wielding a chain saw on a charred, deforested hillside.
Colombia, the world's largest producer of cocaine, hopes European governments will fund placement of the advertisements on billboards, television and even bathrooms of trendy dance clubs.
It's also launched an English-language Web site to highlight its efforts in the US-sponsored war on drugs, including aerial eradication of more than 600,000 hectares of coca, the base ingredient of cocaine, since 2002.
Colombia's government is also seeking more European aid for projects to help peasant farmers switch from growing coca to legal crops like tropical fruits, coffee and rubber.
FRENCH AID: Paris has sent a navy ship and aircraft from Reunion Island with some pollution control equipment, but rough seas are spreading the oil spill The operator of a Japanese bulk carrier which ran aground off Mauritius in the Indian Ocean yesterday apologized for a major oil spill, which officials and environmentalists say is creating an ecological disaster, as police prepared to board the ship. The MV Wakashio, operated by Mitsui OSK Lines, struck the reef on Mauritius’ southeast coast on July 25. “We apologize profusely and deeply for the great trouble we have caused,” Mitsui OSK Lines executive vice president Akihiko Ono said at a news conference in Tokyo. The company would “do everything in their power to resolve the issue,” he said. At least 1,000 tonnes of
They stand as eyesores to most passers-by and potential public health risks to authorities, decaying buildings wrapped in tangles of exposed wire, studded with protruding leaky plastic pipes, vegetation billowing from cracks and terraces where particulates from polluted air have accumulated over time. With skyscrapers and ultramodern developments on every side, some of these “nail houses” are also sitting on land worth millions of dollars in Shenzhen’s inferno of a property market, where new-unit and second-hand home prices rival London. In battles over land and development, the nail house phenomenon has become widespread throughout China over the past two decades, with owners
An Italian alpine resort on Friday remained on high alert over fears that a vast chunk of a glacier on the slopes of the Mont Blanc massif could plummet in high temperatures. “No one gets through! No cars, bikes or pedestrians,” was the message at a checkpoint where an automatic barrier and two guards blocked the small road snaking up into a lush valley below the Planpincieux glacier, near the town of Courmayeur and the Italian-French border. The blockade has largely been greeted with contempt by the locals, one of whom said: “It’s a joke.” The huge ice block measuring around 500,000 cubic
SHOW OF SOLIDARITY: The publisher’s ‘Apple Daily’ newspaper has had to raise the number of copies printed from 70,000 to 550,000 to meet a huge surge in demand They have occupied Hong Kong’s central business district, marched by the hundreds of thousands through the territory’s streets and endured tear gas and pepper spray in pitched battles with riot police. Hong Kong’s pro-democracy supporters are now wielding a new protest weapon: their stock-market trading accounts. To show support for Jimmy Lai (黎智英), the publisher and outspoken government critic who was on Monday arrested under the territory’s new national security legislation, Hong Kongers have been piling into shares of his media company Next Digital. The result: a more than 1,100 percent surge in two days that propelled the stock to a seven-year