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Central America – another victim of the U.S. drug war

The Economist had a hard-hitting piece about how the drug war in Mexico has spilled into the smaller countries of Central America like Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

Whatever the weaknesses of the Mexican state, it is a Leviathan compared with the likes of Guatemala or Honduras. Large areas of Guatemala—including some of its prisons—are out of the government’s control; and, despite the efforts of its president, the government is infiltrated by the mafia. The countries of Central America’s northern triangle (Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador) are now among the most violent places on earth, deadlier even than most conventional war zones. So weak are their judicial systems that in Guatemala, for example, only one murder in 20 is punished.

And, of course, it is the U.S. drug war that is making it harder for these countries to function as they should (or to prioritize their efforts on helping their people). The Economist makes the conclusion quite clear:

But the Central American governments are not solely responsible for the countries’ problems. The drugs policies of the United States are also to blame. And, to cap it all, climate change—to which the unfortunate Central Americans have contributed virtually nothing—seems to be increasing the ferocity of nature in the isthmus. Catastrophic flooding is killing people with increasing frequency, and raising the cost of maintaining infrastructure.

When the guerrilla wars of the 1970s and 1980s ended, Americans forgot about Central America. It is time they remembered it again, and offered some help. They could, for example, lead an aid programme that would tie money for roads, ports and security hardware to increases in the tax take to pay for better security and social conditions.

Such schemes will not, however, solve the fundamental problem: that as long as drugs that people want to consume are prohibited, and therefore provided by criminals, driving the trade out of one bloodstained area will only push it into some other godforsaken place. But unless and until drugs are legalised, that is the best Central America can hope to do.

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2 comments to Central America – another victim of the U.S. drug war

  • darkcycle

    Ahhh, but the U.S. is expanding it’s Central American drug war. We’ve only just this last year or two sucked Costa Rica into it. The most beautiful, friendly place I’ve ever been. Where I one day want to retire (or wanted to). C.R. was so nice, for so long, we just had to go ruin them.

  • Alan Muller

    Meet the new boss same as the old boss .. CIA and Drugs all over again Read

    The Politics of Heroin & Cocaine Politics

    History of CIA support and protection of drug trade in return for advancement of American ( Corporate ) interests
    The drug trade acts as a “force multiplier” helps extend case officers budget provides a cover and introduction to criminal organizations