A 'boycott cocaine' campaign to shame the middle-classes into shunning the fashionable drug has moved a step closer after the Foreign Office gave its blessing.
Foreign Office Minister Bill Rammell has called for people to reject cocaine in the same way they snubbed South African wine during apartheid. Rammell, whose brief includes Latin America, drugs and international crime, is considering launching a government initiative along with groups such as Oxfam, aimed at exposing the horrors of the cocaine-fuelled conflict in Colombia.
Some 80 per cent of cocaine used in Britain comes from Colombia, where the drug fuels a conflict between left-wing guerrillas and right-wing paramilitaries. Each year thousands of Colombians are murdered in the conflict. Both sides in the struggle use the cocaine trade to finance their arsenals.
Rammell told The Observer: 'During the apartheid era it was socially taboo to serve South African wine. Although the Colombian government does not support the drug industry I believe that anybody offering cocaine should feel equally ostracised. Every year thousands of Colombians are murdered as a result of a brutal conflict fuelled by cocaine.'
Rammell's intervention comes only a week after Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, referred to the 'trail of blood' that leads from a line of cocaine in Britain to thousands of deaths in Colombia. Blair raised the issue of people who insist on fair trade coffee and organic food but are happy to use cocaine.
In the last two years more than 51,000 people have been murdered in Colombia as a result of the conflict - almost 70 a day. More than three million Colombians have been forced to leave their homes, many after members of their families have been murdered.
Last week Blair announced a crackdown on middle-class drug users after senior officers said London and other big cities were in the thrall of a drugs 'epidemic'.
He added: 'People think the price of a wrap of cocaine is 50 quid, but the cost is misery on estates here and a trail of blood back to Colombia. Someone has died to bring it to the dinner party. People who wouldn't dream of having non-organic vegetables don't notice the blood on their fingers.'