'Let's stop strategies that don't work!': Interview with Paula Aguirre, Director of Elementa

Francesca Brivio


'Let's stop strategies that don't work!': Interview with Paula Aguirre, Director of Elementa

1 November 2022
Raúl Lescano Méndez
Talking Drugs

Continuing a collaboration with Proyecto Soma, TalkingDrugs has had privileged access to high figures within the Latin American drug policy world.

She mentioned that she regretted studying law in her university life. That she felt trapped in a cage due to the strict and conservative perspective of the law. But today, Paula Aguirre is the director, in Colombia, of Elementa DD.HH. (Elementa Human Rights), a multidisciplinary and feminist team focused on “the creation of viable legal scenarios” and political advocacy to strengthen human rights in processes of truth and reparation and, particularly, in drug policies.

It was precisely human rights that kept her in the world of law. But perhaps, above all, in a world of change, transformation and correction of laws. “Human rights allow us to play with a world of rules that are not limited only to the national,” explains Aguirre. “In our countries, we usually have legislative systems that can be strict on certain issues, but when we start working with international human rights, instruments, ways, doors, options, and alternatives appear.”

Ways, doors, options and alternatives. That is what Elementa DD.HH seeks to build to replace the failed drug policies that, in Colombia, have had immense consequences. According to the Truth Commission, the paradigm of the war on drugs in that country has not only been incapable of having “effective results in dismantling drug trafficking as a political and economic system”. But also, it has added “an enormous number of victims in the frame of the internal armed conflict” and “activated narratives of criminalisation of populations and territories that justified violent operations.” This diagnosis could be applied to the entire Latin American region.

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