Latin America Drug Trafficking to the United States: Why Making This Legal in the United States is Not a Good Option
Drug trafficking in Latin America is linked to many violent crimes including murder. Many people believe that were drugs that arrive from Latin America be legalized that the situation would be much easier to cope with allowing taxation on drug products. This work reviews why making drug trafficking by Latin American cartels to the United States is not a viable option. Indeed, were the United States to do so, the very principles and values of Democracy would be violated as these drug cartels are directly opposed to democratic principles and for these drug cartels to profit democracy would have to suffer greatly.
Latin American Countries and Drug Policy
United States drug policy toward the countries in Latin America is formulated by many factors and in fact so many various and diverse country-specific factors or characteristics that enter in the formulation of U.S. policy that the drug policy is necessarily under the requirement of being based on flexibility. This is due greatly to the differences in culture that exists between not only the United States and Latin American countries in general but due to differentiations in the cultures of the various countries in Latin America. Not only cultural differences make a requirement of flexibility in U.S. policy toward Latin American countries but as well the various governments and leaders of these countries as well as the various anti-political groups that comprise the armies of the drug trade groups in these countries. Koops (2009) reports on the cultural differences that exist between the United States and Latin American countries. For example in the country of Bolivia, there has historically been "a strict distinction between the unprocessed coca leaf and cocaine. However, in the United States, many equate the coca leaf with cocaine addiction and dangerous narcotics and belief it must be eliminated as part of the war on drugs." (Koops, 2009) In contrast, Bolivians perceive the zero coca policy of the United States to be a form of imperialism and an effort to dominate the culture of Bolivia. (Koops, 2009, paraphrased) Koops states that the research of Adler (1991) assist in providing an explanation for the conflict that arises when two culture that are significantly different interact. Koops notes that the definition of culture proposed by Kroeber and Kluckhohs (1952) states as follows:
"Culture consist of patterns, explicit and implicit of and for behavior acquired and transmitted by symbols, constituting the distinctive achievement of human groups, including their embodiment in artifacts; the essential core of culture consist of traditional (i.e., historically derived and selected) ideas and especially their attached values; culture system may, on the one hand be considered as products of action, on the other, as conditioning elements of future action." (Koops, 2009)
II. The Andean Region -- Most Difficult Region
One of the regions of Latin America that is the most difficult for the United States government to deal with is that of the Andean region due to the experienced patterns of "short-term success and long-term failure in tackling the drug problem." (Gamarra, 2005) It is reported that while there are common elements that the various regions and their differences "mean that a one-size-fits-all counter-drug policy is not only likely to fail, but may even exacerbate the problems in each country." (Gamarra, 2005) Reported, as the most serious of all challenges in each of the Andean countries "…is the fragility of the state and its institutions. This in turn affects the extent to which Andean countries have successfully adopted the basic components of counter-drug efforts. It also explains why these countries have failed to resolve such issues as civil society representation, tax collection, a long-term economic development strategy, and basic law enforcement." (Gamarra, 2005) It is reported that three key indicators of state weakness that vary by country and over time in the Andean region are the following: (1) Historic failures of the state to exert full control over national territories and to monopolize the legitimate use of force; (2) Failures of Andean states to deliver basic services; and (3) State weakness being a product of low institutional credibility with a general and uniform distrust of legislatures, judiciaries and the police throughout the Andean region. (Gamarra, 2005) Gamarra (2005) reports that the public view in the Andes region is reflective of "the declining legitimacy of representation democracy, a profound questioning of neo-liberalism, overwhelming anti-Americanism, and a sense that drug policies are simply U.S. hegemonic attempts to exert control over the region." (Gamarra, 2005)
In 2000, while President Hugo Banzer Suarez was the President of Bolivia, the claims of Bolivia were that the country have separated itself form an economy aligned with illicit drug trade and the government is reported to have "pursued a controversial crop eradication scheme in the coca-producing Chapare region…" and managed to rid the region of the majority of the coca crop. (Gamarra, 2005) This success was short lived as Evo Morales, head of the Chapare's coca grower unions and a Movimiento al Socioalismo, MAS) candidate began to climb the ladder of political power. The U.S. viewed Morales leadership of the coca grower's movement as a threat to Bolivia's future counter-narcotics initiatives. The country of Bolivia is stated to have found itself "with the unenviable policy dilemma of either satisfying U.S. pressures to carry out draconian crop eradication measures, which inevitably stirred the wrath of Morales and his supporters, or resisting U.S. pressure to prevent a direct confrontation between coca-growing peasants and government eradicators." (Gamarra, 2005) In October 2003, President Gonzalo Sanchez de Lozada resigned and Carlos Mesa took power. Mesa's attention moved away from the coca grower's union to other political issues. It appears at the time of Gamarra's writing in 2005 that the hold on power of Mesa was questionable and the potential for long-term drug control success is reported to be dependent on the role that Morales and MAS will play in the years to come.
IV. Colombia's Cycles
Colombia's war against drug initiative has been ongoing for three decades and is stated to have "…gone through a series of cycles, each characterized by the industry's chameleon -- like ability to transform itself and survive." (Gamarra, 2005) Colombia is reported to be the principle cultivator of coca and poppies, the largest producer of cocaine and heroin, and the single largest trafficker and of these two drugs. (Gamarra, 2005) When President Uribe took office in August 2002, expectations were that Uribe had "tired both of a vitiated peace process with the FARC and the violence experienced by average citizens." (Gamarra, 2005) Uribe's potential for finding a solution to the economic problems did not appear promising in the beginning of his presidential term however, "During his administration the country's fiscal crisis has been brought under control." (Gamarra, 2005) According to Gamarra Uribe's security policy based on democracy has been successful if the measurement is the restoration of the presence of the state in areas that guerillas or paramilitary forces had previously controlled. In 2004, Uribe launched the Patriot Plan, which involves the armed forces and their attempt to recapture the territories that were previously controlled by the FARC. (Gamarra, 2005, paraphrased) The success of Uribe is stated to be dependent on four factors: (1) ongoing aid from the United States; (2) the interagency nature of the effort; (3) the re-election of Uribe so that the policy will be sustainable in the long-term; and (4) the extent to which the policy is able to provide a response to the demands of the public for alleviation of poverty, provision of basic services and the provision of a secure place to live. (Gamarra, 2005)
Peru was under a ten-year term of presidency of Alberto Fujimori and the attempt of this administration to build an authoritarian regime that electoral processes legitimized resulted in a party collapse. The regime that Fujimori and Vladimiro Montesxinos attempted to construction was one characterized by corruption and significantly bonded to drugs and arm-trafficking industry demands. The new president of Peru, Alejandro Toleda is reported to have attempted to "forge ahead with counter-drug initiatives." (Gamarra, 2005) However, there has been a significant expansion of coca cultivation in the regions of: (1) the Apurimac-Ene Valley located in Southern Peru; and (2) the Valle Monzon area in the Upper Huallaga Valley. (Gamarra, 2005) There has been a rise of a group in what is known as the 'cocalero' movement that has resulted in an attempt to "rehabilitate abandoned coca plantations" and the effort of the government to destroy 8,000 acres of coca resulted in the Association de Productores de Alto Monzon. (Gamarra, 2005) The effort to rid the region of the coca crop was backed by the United States. Success has been modest but stable in Peru as there has been a decline in coca growth and the country's economic stability appears to have taken hold somewhat. There is still an…