This article is muy interesante. Always intriguing to see
pragmatic needs for results trump the militaristic policy directives from el norte. Almost 20 years ago, EPR spoke with UC San Diego’s Peter H. Smith (Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Simon Bolivar Professor of Latin American Studies). He had just edited Drug Policy in the Americas and was finalizing the manuscript for Talons of the Eagle: Dynamics of U.S.-Latin American Relations. Back in 1994, two things were crystal clear to Smith and his academic colleagues: 1. Because of the unintended consequences and tragic collateral damage from military / police action against suppliers and incarceration of consumers, legalization of most drugs and treatment of addiction were the obvious policy options to pursue. 2. Because of the US political and economic investment in a “War on Drugs”, it would be nearly impossible to sell those options to policy makers. And for the lion’s share of the 20th century, as went America, so went the Américas.
But a lot has changed in 20 years. US hegemony in the hemisphere has steadily been eroded by a confluence of inter-related developments:
– the rise of the Brazilian economy
– increased foreign investment by European and Asian interests
– emergence and acceptance of political models that successfully blend capitalist free-market economics with socialist public policy
– continuation of Hugo Chavez’s infantile albeit provocative verbal assault on the US
So as Joe Biden wags his finger at Latin American leaders and continues to preach the stale Reagan-era arguments against legalization, leaders in Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and other neighbor states have something much more urgent to deal with – blood and anarchy.
If more money is flowing in from China than the US, why should Latin America continue to endure the slaughter and violence and socioeconomic disruption of the illegal drug trade so US politicians can hold onto a fistful of votes? This isn’t a new question. Academics, progressives, and ranting hippies have preached this position for decades. There is however a new voice: The Latin American leadership.
Let’s look at Guatemala’s President Otto Pérez Molina. This guy made his way up through the ranks of Guatemala’s special forces, military intelligence, and counter-insurgency units during the nation’s brutal civil war known for the army’s “scorched earth” policy towards the rebels and anyone suspected of collaboration or support for the rebel movement – a policy that resulted in the destruction of entire villages and the murder of hundreds of thousands of civilians. Military officials including Gen. Pérez Molina continue to be accused of genocide, torture, and assassinations. With this résumé in his back pocket, Pérez Molina won the presidency last year on a platform of “Mano dura, cabeza y corazón” and promised a zero tolerance policy for criminal activity.
Even THIS guy is talking drug legalization. Lord knows México would have done it years ago if the US didn’t keep getting its chonies all tied in a knot. En el sur they know that it’s no longer about votes and it certainly isn’t about morality – and it never really was. It’s about power. The easiest way for a US politician to remain in power is through the shameless deployment of hate and fear – which is good and great if you want to hold onto a congressional seat or spew vitriol into a gold-plated microphone. But in the rest of the world they’re getting really tired of… death. It’s exhausting… it’s crippling… and even El General Molina seems to have had enough.
So are there some backroom deals being struck in El Salvador with the MS13 and Barrio 18? If that’s why the murder rate dropped over 60% this month, I sure as hell hope so.