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18/03/2012 | Drug war shifts in Latin America

The Economist Staff

As violence levels soar in nations like Honduras, officials seek new answers, even decriminalization.Latin America is rich in sought-after commodities, including narcotics.The coca leaf, from which cocaine is refined, is grown only in the foothills of the Andes.

 

Mexico produces more heroin than anywhere but Afghanistan, as well as much cannabis.

Latin American traffickers are even diversifying into synthetic drugs such as methamphetamine.

The illegality of this successful export business means that its multibillion-dollar profits go to criminal gangs.

Their battles for market control have a high cost: According to the United Nations, eight of the world’s 10 most violent countries are in Latin America or the Caribbean. Drugs are not the only business of organized crime but they account for the bulk of the gangs’ income and thus their firepower.

Honduras, a strategic spot on the trafficking route, has the world’s highest murder rate, about 80 times that of Western Europe. All this is despite three decades of what has become known as the "war" on drugs in the region, inspired by the United States, and prosecuted with varying degrees of enthusiasm by Latin American governments.

Or is it because of the drug war, rather then despite it?

Hitherto, criticism of drug prohibition has tended to come only from retired political leaders. In a 2009 report, three respected former presidents (Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brazil, Cesar Gaviria of Colombia and Mexico’s Ernesto Zedillo) declared the drug war a failure, and demanded alternative approaches.

Cardoso has called for the legalization of some drugs. Recently, sitting presidents have begun to speak up, too. Felipe Calderon of Mexico called for a "national debate" about legalization, though he then seemed to forget about it.

After an arson attack by a drug gang killed 52 people in a casino last August, he declared that if the United States was determined to keep importing drugs, it should seek "market alternatives" and "clear points of access other than the border with Mexico."

In November, Juan Manuel Santos, Colombia’s president, told Britain’s Observer newspaper: "If (taking away traffickers’ profits) means legalizing, and the world thinks that’s the solution, I will welcome it."

The seven countries of Central America, plus Mexico, Colombia and the Dominican Republic, have jointly declared that "if (cutting demand) is not possible, as recent experience demonstrates, the authorities of consumer countries must explore all possible alternatives . . . including regulatory or market options."

Those calling for an end to the war cannot all be brushed off as liberal namby-pambies. Otto Perez Molina, Guatemala’s new president, is a former general who when campaigning promised an "iron fist" against crime. Last month, he called for the decriminalization of drug trafficking, saying: "You would get rid of money laundering, smuggling, arms trafficking and corruption."

In a poll for El Periodico, a Guatemalan newspaper, 79 per cent were against decriminalizing drugs. But Perez, who enjoys voters’ confidence on security, has pressed on, sending his vice-president on a regional tour to drum up support.

The United States seems to have noted this war-weariness. During a visit to Mexico and Honduras earlier this month Joe Biden, the vice-president, said that legalization was "worth discussing" but added that there was no possibility of the administration dropping its opposition to it.

The Chronicle Herald (Canadá)

 


Otras Notas Relacionadas... ( Records 1 to 10 of 2649 )
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10/08/2013 Drug War - Drug gang violence: Very bad things are happening in Honduras
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04/08/2013 Colombia - Narcotráfico: La caída del “Z-40” fortalece al “Chapo”
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03/03/2013 Guatemala - Culpa presidente a narcotráfico de ataque en frontera con México
02/03/2013 El Salvador - Cae presunto narco que tendría nexos en Honduras
02/03/2013 Latin America - Drug War: No one is safe from Argentina's drug war
30/12/2012 Perú - Wilfredo Pedraza: ´Se ha logrado una cifra histórica en la lucha contra el narcotráfico´
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21/08/2009|
19/08/2009|
19/08/2009|
15/08/2009|
15/08/2009|
15/08/2009|
11/08/2009|
11/08/2009|
11/08/2009|
11/08/2009|
19/07/2009|
19/07/2009|
18/07/2009|
18/07/2009|
27/03/2009|
22/03/2009|
22/03/2009|
27/01/2009|
27/01/2009|
27/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
17/01/2009|
11/01/2009|
06/12/2008|
06/12/2008|
06/12/2008|
06/12/2008|
23/11/2008|
23/11/2008|
16/11/2008|
16/11/2008|
04/11/2008|
04/11/2008|
03/11/2008|
03/11/2008|
24/10/2008|
24/10/2008|
24/10/2008|
24/10/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
15/09/2008|
06/09/2008|
06/09/2008|
05/09/2008|
05/09/2008|
05/09/2008|
05/09/2008|
01/09/2008|
01/09/2008|
01/09/2008|
01/09/2008|
22/08/2008|
22/08/2008|
17/08/2008|
17/08/2008|
16/08/2008|
16/08/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
28/07/2008|
19/07/2008|
19/07/2008|
24/05/2008|
24/05/2008|
03/05/2008|
03/05/2008|
29/04/2008|
11/02/2008|
05/01/2008|
09/12/2007|
18/11/2007|
10/11/2007|
10/11/2007|
06/11/2007|
06/11/2007|
06/09/2007|
26/08/2007|
25/08/2007|
11/07/2007|
16/06/2007|
16/06/2007|
10/06/2007|
10/06/2007|
19/05/2007|
19/05/2007|
19/05/2007|
19/05/2007|
24/04/2007|
24/04/2007|
14/04/2007|
14/04/2007|
05/04/2007|
05/04/2007|
05/04/2007|
28/02/2007|
28/02/2007|
05/02/2007|
05/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
04/02/2007|
29/01/2007|
29/01/2007|
29/01/2007|
29/01/2007|
11/01/2007|
11/01/2007|
11/01/2007|
11/01/2007|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
27/12/2006|
20/12/2006|
20/12/2006|
17/11/2006|
30/09/2006|
28/07/2006|
12/04/2006|
12/04/2006|
12/04/2006|
06/03/2006|
21/02/2006|
17/02/2006|
31/01/2006|
10/01/2006|
28/12/2005|
31/10/2005|
26/09/2005|
29/08/2005|
11/08/2005|
08/08/2005|
24/06/2005|
24/06/2005|
24/06/2005|
03/04/2005|
03/04/2005|
03/04/2005|
03/04/2005|

ver + notas
 
Center for the Study of the Presidency
Freedom House