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Forjando Liderazgo Events: Impacts on Individual Country
To summarize the impact of the Forjando Liderazgo events and curriculum upon individual countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, the following should be noted:
According to the testimonials of professionals and leaders in the arena of substance abuse prevention, treatment and interdiction in Latin America, this was the first time that such a comprehensive endeavor was undertaken in the region. In most Forjando Liderazgo seminars, many of the participants were surprised by much of the scientific data and facts presented. This is because prior to the Forjando Liderazgo curriculum, most professionals in the field of drug abuse and policy acquired the vast majority of their information either from Spain or from Portugal, two countries which for many years have had very liberal drug policies that do not necessarily reflect best practices and scientifically-based evidence. The data presented has always been carefully filtered to reflect the most current research and outcomes. This data was drawn from international organizations such as the United Nations, National Institute on Drug Abuse, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Comision Interamericana para el Control del Abuso de Drogas (Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission) and many others.
Also, it should be noted that all of the Forjando Liderazgo seminars have had renowned, well respected presenters and supporters, including numerous university and government officials. A critical component in the success of this program was the fact that these presenters were chosen not only because of their vast knowledge and experience in the arena of drug demand reduction, but also because approximately 95% of the presentations were made in Spanish or in Portuguese by presenters whose native tongue was one of those languages. Each one of the training events was accompanied by a bound booklet or cd-rom of educational materials that had been translated into either Spanish or Portuguese.
Forjando Liderazgo has been one of very few voices heard throughout Latin America, publicly urging the need to reduce drug use and to have comprehensive and active societal involvement for sound drug prevention. The primary means with which Forjando Liderazgo accomplishes this goal is by promoting the formation of effective coalitions and supporting the efforts of these coalitions throughout the years in a number of ways.
Thousands of the seminars’ participants have formally declared their desire to become members of the Drug Prevention Network of the Americas/Red Interamericana para la Prevencion sobre Drogas (DPNA/RIPRED) in order to continue the interchange of information and ideas with Forjando Liderazgo presenters and to share their stories with other members to further enhance communication and efforts in the region.
Because of Forjando Liderazgo, organizations and people recognized as being leaders or future leaders, with influence in their living and working environment, from all over the continent have had the opportunity to meet each other and have been able to acquire up-to-date information based on science and practical experience from renowned professionals in the field of drug demand reduction (including prevention, treatment and interdiction).
It was through Forjando Liderazgo that the idea of Preventive Cities came to fruition and was spread around the continent. Preventive Cities is a concept that developed through a focus on a truly comprehensive approach to drug demand reduction, from the smallest town to the largest city. If the local government, school system, social services organizations, parent groups and/ or others work together to reject drug use, trafficking and sales in their community, they can have a tremendous impact. This endeavor has developed over the years and has become the initiative of Mayors, city councils and other concerned groups who want to keep their communities safe and drug free. This model program has spread, and due to close and continuous relationships with the leaders of many Latin American cities, a relatively significant number of those cities have already adopted this concept. As outlined in the country links, the most prolific examples of Preventive Cities’ achievements are from Argentina and from Ecuador. In many cities throughout Latin America, formal documents have been signed and intentions of joint work have been expressed with great enthusiasm. This process is an ongoing one that is integral to the work of Forjando Liderazgo and requires close follow-up and guidance in many instances, with great participation of the local leaders involved.