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Alex James: Cocaine Diaries

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School Bd/College/University DVD: $249


Grade Level: SrH-Adult
Producer: BBC
Closed Captioned: No
Running Time: 50 mins
Country of Origin: Great Britain
Study Guide: No

Copyright Date: 2008
Available in French: No

Colombia now accounts for 62% of the world's cocaine production, a trade the UN estimates to be worth US$70 billion worldwide. Today, cocaine has overtaken coffee as Colombia's top export, producing over 610 metric tonnes a year. In this very personal documentary, former cocaine addict Alex James, bassist of Britpop band Blur, travels to Colombia to see first-hand what the cocaine industry is doing to the country and its people.

Now clean, Alex has turned his talents to farming and making cheese so as a farmer as well as a former addict, this visit is both interesting and poignant for him. Once in Colombia, with near-unrestricted access, Alex meets the farmers, the sellers and the enforcers. He visits an anti-narcotics base where the Colombian military are overseeing the chemical spraying of hundreds of hectares of coca plantation and workers are pulling up the plants by hand – a job fraught with danger since the plantations are often land mined and the workers shot. He visits make-shift labs.

Alex admits he spent a million pounds on cocaine and alcohol during the height of Blur's fame, a fact that is put into sharp perspective when he finds out that a gram of cocaine sells on the Colombian streets for just £1.00 and is the cause of 17,000 murders every year in Colombia....In Colombia, cocaine and violence are inextricable.

As Alex himself finds out: “It's a long way from a cheeky line at a dinner party. It's terrifying.”