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October 2005
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We refuse to learn

Surging Mexican violence draws comparisons to Colombia.

In describing the surging drug violence along the U.S.-Mexico border and elsewhere in Mexico, Flores and other law enforcement officials and analysts are increasingly referring to Colombia, where the Medellin drug cartel and other criminal organizations waged war on the government and killed hundreds of people during the 1980s.[..]

The threat in Mexico is rising because of a shift in the drug trade, U.S. anti-drug officials and drug-trade specialists say. Mexico – and not Colombia – is now headquarters for the Western hemisphere’s most important drug traffickers.

“Since the fall of the big Colombian cartels from Medellin and Cali, the power center in the Latin American drug trade has shifted to Mexico,” said Ron Chepesiuk, journalist and author of “Drug Lords: The Rise and Fall of the Cali Cartel.”

“The violence is getting worse, I suspect, because the Mexicans are playing a bigger … more lucrative role in the trade.”

We’ve seen this for so many years. If you push down somewhere, it pops up somewhere else. Prohibition has absolutely no impact on the availability of drugs — it just costs money, destroys lives and land, creates wealthy super-criminals, and corrupts law enforcement. Can’t anybody do a cost assessment?
No. Take a look at Uribe. If anyone should have a first-hand awareness of the costs of prohibition, it’s him. And yet at the recent Summit of the Heads of National Drug Law Enforcement Agencies (see this article by Dan Feder), President Uribe talked about increasing efforts, not only in Colombia, but in neighboring countries.
One point of interest (worth reading in Feder’s article) is that Uribe did feel compelled to address calls for legalization (could they be getting louder?). He, of course, dismissed such calls, but his justifications were absurd and contradictory. He even admitted that he tended away from the use of “cold reason” when thinking about it.
It seems to me that the future of Latin America depends on a choice of two directions:

  1. The countries pull together all their spine and refuse to allow the U.S. to continue its destructive drug war inside their borders, or
  2. Latin America eventually self-destructs (along with the Southwest border of the U.S.)

Of course, it doesn’t help that in many cases, the drug war is actually a cover for political agendas, access to valuable resources, and military positioning.

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