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Discusses the issue of drug trafficking between the USA and Latin America.... More...
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Discusses the issue of drug trafficking between the USA and Latin America. Examines the political ramifications of various governments' drug policies. Economic concerns and factors. History of drug trafficking as a product of the 20th Century. Illegal market. Impact of Prohibition on drug use and transportation. Changing government positions towards the problem.
Introduction The United States is currently engaged in a War on Drugs, a war that has been waged for decades and which shows no indication of being successfully concluded in the near future. As with other types of wars, this one has fronts both within the domestic borders as well as in foreign lands, and the war affects the country's economic policy and shapes relationships with numerous foreign powers. The United States military and intelligence services are engaged in the war, as are various law enforcement agencies at the local, state and federal levels. Yet drug use and abuse continues to be strong within the United States, and drug interdiction efforts on the international level draw mixed reviews. This research considers the issue of drug trafficking between Latin America and the United States, and examines the political ram
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Thus coca yielded not onlypowder cocaine, which had a high street value and was not accessible tomany would-be consumers, but also crack cocaine. However, Colombia notedthat a number of drug scandals emerged during the same year regardingMexico and its officials, but Mexico received certification. Critics of the Latin American drug policysuggest that if American officials can be bribed, it should be no surprisethat officials in other, poorer, countries are also regularly bribed tofacilitate criminal trafficking ("The Border" 7 ). InPeru, the CIA spotted and identified (as much as possible) suspiciousaircraft, but was present in an advisory role only. The Arrellano Felixbrothers are drug traffickers, bringing cocaine, marijuana, heroin andmethamphetamines across the Mexican border. Prohibition and the way that it was enforced also set the stage forthe way in which drug use and transportation would be fought for theremainder of the twentieth century. At the same time, some drugs were developed (such asmethamphetemine) which are developed entirely in laboratories. Ecuador is increasingly involved in the drug trafficking issues ofLatin America, particularly in areas along the border with Colombia. Ronald Reagan's administration aggressively pursued a strategy ofstopping drugs at the border, a tactic that was perceived as inefficientand unsuccessful. There is some evidence that interdiction results infewer instances of drug use and abuse if only because the supply of drugsis interrupted and costs increase. This is the situation that unfolded in Peru, but themisidentification, and the failure by the Peruvian military to confirmtheir target as a drug trafficker, points out the flaws in the system. Only in the last two decades of the previouscentury was there a shift toward decreasing demand for drugs (althoughspending on enforcement remained steady during that time). As the Peruvian incident demonstrated, the move toward multi-lateralaction can involve convoluted relationships among various nations. While tapes from the CIA plane confirmedthat the CIA did not actually order the shooting, many Americans weresurprised to learn that the CIA was flying in foreign airspace andpatrolling not just Peruvian skies, but also Colombia's ("America's Shadow"36). In the border region, violence is increasing, and thewar on drugs in Colombia is producing a large number of refugees seeking abetter life in Ecuador. The murderrate in Rio de Janeiro is among the highest in the world, with more than7 murders occurring in the city in 1995. At approximately the same time,however, a United States inspector at the San Ysidro border crossing pledguilty to receiving nearly US$9 , in bribes from the brothers'organization (Jose Antonio Olvera claimed that the gang threatened tokidnap his five-year old child). Although the gains made by these efforts were felt to bemodest, they improved the public perception of the country's ability todeal with the problem, and also the international perception ("Urban Crime"37). The near future is likely to see a continued effort made atinterdiction, but with an increased emphasis on multi-lateral approaches todrug trafficking that previously have not been seen. The 199 s saw efforts by Brazil to both root out corruption andreduce the level of drug trafficking. Most of the violence can betraced directly to drug traffickers, and many of those responsible are notbrought to justice due to police corruption, which is also funded by drugmoney. While the Harrison Act slowed drug use, the appealof narcotics continued to the point that the president appointed aCommissioner of Narcotics in 193 ("The Annals" 21). Drug trafficking is a product of the twentiethcentury, with roots in the earliest part of the century. The helicopters are armed and armor-plated andprotect crop dusting planes as the planes spread herbicide over coca andpoppy plants in the dense terrain. By emphasizing the role that oil plays in the relationshipbetween Colombia and the United States, lawmakers hoped to continue highlevels of foreign aid to the oil-producing nation under the guise of thedrug war (Bedard, Newman and Kaplan 8). The violence of the brothers issignificant, and is responsible for the killing of Cardinal Juan JesusPosadas Ocampo, who was mistaken for a rival drug boss. Drug use and abuse declined during the 194 s and 195 s, but surgedduring the 196 s. Atthe same time, having American military personnel and equipment patrollingforeign countries has ramifications both for American foreign policy aswell as for politicians in the foreign nation. Works Cited"America's Shadow Drug War." Time (7 May 2 1): 36-38."The Annals of a Permanent War." U. Drugoffenders account for 21 percent of inmates in state prison, and nearly 6 percent of inmates in federal penitentiaries. Introduction The United States is currently engaged in a War on Drugs, a war thathas been waged for decades and which shows no indication of beingsuccessfully concluded in the near future. Thus, interdictionefforts are now targeting counterfeit currency as well as illicit drugs asColombia is now recognized as the lead supplier of both products to theUnited States (Stone 7). Drug controlefforts for fiscal 2 2 at the federal level will cost more than $19.2billion and involve more than 5 programs and federal agencies. Oil workers have been kidnapped, there have been attackson the nation's primary pipeline, and residents in the border region (whichis also the main area for oil extraction) have been moving to other regionsof the country. Oilremains a key export from Ecuador to the United States, but the country isalso participating in processing Colombian coca into cocaine for export tothe United States. The Current Situation During the 199 s, Brazil sought to reduce its drug trafficking andpolice corruption levels in an effort to reduce overall crime and violencein the nation as a whole, and in Rio de Janeiro in particular. However, interdiction has resulted inhigh levels of violence as profits have grown along with the risks, and asthose engaged in drug trafficking have increased incentive to protect theirinvestment. Government Positions (USA and Latin America) There are indications that momentum is growing for a change in the waythat the United States approaches its drug problem. In 2 , Colombia, Bolivia and Peru received 3 new helicopters fromthe United States valued at $1 million each and 33 Vietnam-era helicoptersfor $1.5 million each. News & World Report (Aug 28, 1989): 21.Bedard, Paul, Richard Newman and David Kaplan. If the United States changes its stance on the drug war, it will havelong-term effects on drug producing nations, including those in LatinAmerica. The drug economy that has developed in Colombia has created an unusualby-product: counterfeit American currency. S. The emphasis was on interdiction ofshipments, with some effort directed toward reducing demand through harshsentences for violators. "The Drug Problem." Spectrum: the Journal of State Government (Win 1999): 32-34.Stone, Alexander. The Clinton administration focused on forming allianceswith drug-producing nations (largely through financial aid) in order tohalt production at the source. This was a much lessexpensive alternative that was available to those without significantfinancial resources. Critics of the war on drugssuggest that these costs, both financial and social, are simply too highfor the country to bear much longer (Cannon 2595). At the same time, these helicopters are consideredcostly to operate as well as difficult to operate and maintain, and therewas some question whether funds intended to fight drug traffickers would beused to train and maintain these helicopters instead (Thompson 55). However, Mexican police extradited Everardo Paez Martinez in mid-2 1,four years after his arrest. The processwas perceived as highly political, and based more on political issuesrather than on the actual efforts and results of the nations in question("Time for Retreat?" 44). The CIA flights were halted after the Cessna incident, but in the late199 s, American personnel as well as American equipment were involved intrying to disrupt flights between Peru (where crops are grown) and Colombia(where they are processed into saleable product). Nonetheless,continued joint activities among different nations are likely tocharacterize interdiction efforts in the future (Gonzalez-Baez 32). In addition, thebrothers, who came to power after those responsible for killing DEA agentEnrique Camarena in 1985 were arrested, have engaged in assassinations ofrivals and potential rivals in heinous fashion. There is thusconsiderable pressure from these nations on the United States to continueinterdiction efforts, and to continue to fund nations that are fightingdrugs regardless of the actual effect that the interdiction efforts have. Although this effort largely succeeded in itsstated goals, the result was that the supply and demand shifted, so that asheroin from the Middle East ceased to be a significant problem, LatinAmerican cocaine became more popular ("The Annals" 21). There areincreased calls for the decriminalization of drugs in the United States,and a cessation of interdiction as the center of American drug policy inother countries. As early as 1914,the Harrison Act regulated the distribution of narcotics (includingcocaine) by physicians. In 1997,Colombia was decertified (based on events of 1996) while Mexico receivedcertification. Prohibition was enacted in 192 and had two obvious consequences: bymaking the transportation and sale of alcohol illegal, it promoted a blackmarket (since demand was not eliminated); at the same time, Prohibitionresulted in effectively lowering the consumption of alcohol--per capitaconsumption among those old enough to drink did not return to pre-Prohibition levels until the 197 s (Cannon 2599). "It's the Oil, Stupid." U.S News & World Report (Apr 1 , 2 ): 8."The Border Monsters." Time (Jun 11, 2 1): 69-71.Cannon, Carl M. Michael. Such critics of the current policy suggest that not onlyhas the American policy failed in the United States, but that it leddirectly to the deaths of the American missionaries in Peru (Cannon 2592). "They Need Choppers, Don't They?" Time (Mar 6, 2 ): 55."Time for Retreat?" The Economist (US) (Mar 8, 1997): 44-45."Urban Crime: From Rio." The Economist (US) (Dec 2, 1995 : 37.Waller, J. As with other types of wars,this one has fronts both within the domestic borders as well as in foreignlands, and the war affects the country's economic policy and shapesrelationships with numerous foreign powers. They have formed allianceswith drug producers throughout Latin America, but have particularly closealliances with those in Colombia. Efforts focused both on providingjobs for low-level drug traffickers in legitimate business, and on usingthe military to patrol the borders looking for drugs as well as weapons andfugitives. The Colombian drug cartelsbegan circulating counterfeit bills during the 198 s when they used suchcurrency to pay unsuspecting farmers. History Trafficking in drugs exists only because certain drugs are illegal inthe United States and elsewhere, and because a shadow and illegal marketexists for these drugs. In mid-2 1, the level of American participation in the interdictioneffort in Latin America became clear when members of the Peruvian militaryshot down a Cessna suspected of being involved in drug trafficking.Instead, the private plane had been carrying American missionaries,including a seven-month old infant. Although not a major producer of raw materials, it islittle surprise that Ecuador is rapidly becoming a significant processingnation for narcotics ("Collateral Damage" 5). For years, the United Statesengaged in a certification process that ensured financial support to thosenations that, in the opinion of the United States, were cooperating withthe American effort to slow drug traffic into the nation. This event caused considerable resentment by Colombianofficials, who had been considering changing their constitution to allowthe extradition of key figures in the drug trade to the United States; thisprovision was considered key by the United States. In mid-2 , for example, supporters of a financialaid package for Colombia emphasized the fact that the United Statesreceives more oil from Colombia than from Kuwait every year in order toencourage the passage of the financial aid bill without reducing it from$1.7 billion. Martinez is considered to have valuableinformation about the cartel's operations. The timing of the order was questionedby some observers, who noted that the American manufacturers (Sikorsky andBell) needed the business at just the time the Clinton Administrationdeveloped this plan. Colombia is the cornerstone of anti-drug trafficking measures in largepart because that nation is a significant supplier of cocaine to the restof the world, including the United States. Politics and economic concerns play a role in shaping the drug policyof the United States. Ecuador, a common route for weapons anddrugs out of Latin America, has become a popular route for counterfeitdollars as well, particularly since that country shifted to the Americandollar in its own economic affairs and since many in the country wereeasily fooled by the imitation of foreign currency. Thisresearch considers the issue of drug trafficking between Latin America andthe United States, and examines the political ramifications of the variousgovernments' drug policies. This is putting considerable pressure on theeconomy of Ecuador, as well as bringing new violence to that alreadytroubled country. This also has been perceived as largelyineffective, and today, new solutions are being sought (Waller 1 ). "Policy Disaster." Insight on the News (Nov 13, 2 ): 1 -14. In Mexico, some analysts consider the Arellano Felix brothers' drugorganization to be the most powerful organization in the country eventhough it operates beyond the law ("The Border Monsters" 69). "Tempering the War." National Journal (Aug 18, 2 1): 2592-26 1."Collateral Damage: Ecuador." The Economist (US) (Feb 3, 2 1): 5.Gonzalez-Baez, Gustavo. During this time, new drugs were developed that werebased not only on traditional plants (marijuana and cocaine), but whichwere highly processed and created in labs. The United States spentan estimated $1.9 billion on interdiction efforts in 2 , which is theequivalent of 19 metric tons of cocaine at retail prices. After the attack, it was learned thata CIA jet had been involved, and indeed had given information about theCessna to the Peruvian military. Yet drug useand abuse continues to be strong within the United States, and druginterdiction efforts on the international level draw mixed reviews. There are problemsthat arise in this approach, however, as reaching consensus among nationsas diverse as the United States, Colombia, Mexico and Ukraine provesdifficult (there Ukrainians are increasingly responsible for traffickingdrugs from Colombia into the United States via Mexico). In the intervening years,counterfeiting has become a profitable side business for Colombianparticipants in the drug trade. "Illegal Tender." Harvard International Review (Sum 2 1): 7-8.Thompson, Mark. Currently, nations that demonstrate a commitment to combatingdrug production receive financial and other assistance from the UnitedStates to assist them in that effort. "Fly-along" officersfrom the host nation would be responsible for authorizing any action thatwas taken. The Nixonadministration focused on cutting off foreign supplies, particularlysupplies of Turkish heroin. The United States military andintelligence services are engaged in the war, as are various lawenforcement agencies at the local, state and federal levels. As the United Stateschanges its stance toward international drug trafficking, so othercountries are likely to change their own official positions (regardless ofwhat unofficial stances are taken within some nations). There is increasing emphasis on multi-lateral approaches to drugtrafficking in recent years in which various nations are recognizing that aglobal distribution problem requires a global solution. That amount hasbeen intercepted as a result of the interdiction efforts, but it is notclear that the seizure of even 19 metric tons has had any measurable effecton the availability of drugs in the United States ("America's Shadow" 36). The economy has been destabilized by other events to thepoint that the government took the extreme step of replacing the currencywith the American dollar, and the government itself has had six presidentsin five years. If the United States de-emphasizesinterdiction, that financial assistance may disappear. Theorganization is estimated at more than US$3 billion, with an estimatedUS$75 million spent each year on bribing officials. Conclusion Efforts at controlling drug trafficking in the past have focusedlargely on interdiction, and it is unclear whether or not those effortshave been successful.
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