2 posts tagged drug policy
President Obama recently announced an aid package of more than $130 million to fight the narcotraficantes (narco-traffickers) in Central and Latin America. The infusion of money was announced at the Summit of the Americas in April in Cartagena, Colombia, to head off criticism of the “war on drugs”—and spreading calls to declare it a failure and end it.
The White House wants the world to believe drug prohibition works, and to forget the murderous legacy of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in Central and Latin America.
The CIA and the DEA have been directly involved in drug trafficking in the region for decades. They’ve trained, armed and funded death squads and right-wing paramilitary groups that share control of the lucrative drug trade. Corrupt officials at the highest levels of government and sections of the business class also profit enormously from the illicit drug trade.
Latin America has borne the brunt of the U.S.-led war on drugs that has turned several countries into virtual war zones full of massacres and mayhem. Drug cartels operate with near impunity and assassinate judges, journalists, mayors, police and anyone unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
No country wants to become the “next Mexico,” where more than 60,000 people have died in gruesome, drug-fueled violence. Over 250,000 have been internally displaced, and kidnapping for ransom is rife. In many parts of Mexico, drug cartels now battle openly with government forces for control of cities and towns.
The effects on the Mexican economy, in particular tourism, have been devastating. In Acapulco last year, 15 decapitated bodies were found on a walkway to a popular beach. Another 12 victims, including two police officers, were killed in the city on the same day. The drug war has turned Mexico into vast killing fields and economic wastelands.
The Obama administration released its 2012 National Drug Control Strategy and accompanying 2013 drug budget Tuesday, and while the administration touted it as a “drug policy for the 21st Century,” it is very much of a piece with anti-drug policies going back to the days of Richard Nixon.
The federal government will spend more than $25 billion on drug control under the proposed budget, nearly half a billion dollars more than this year. And despite the administration’s talk about emphasizing prevention and treatment over war on drugs spending, it retains the same roughly 60:40 ratio of law enforcement and interdiction spending over treatment and prevention training that [it] has obtained in federal drug budgets going back years. In fact, the 58.8% of the proposed budget that would go to drug war programs is exactly the same percentage as George Bush’s 2008 budget and even higher than the 56.8% in Bush’s 2005 budget.