|Today we read that the American War on Drugs has expanded to Africa.The New York Times say “The aggressive response by the United States is also a sign of how greater attention and resources have turned to efforts to fight drugs as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have wound down.”Does this mean the military is looking for a mission? It’s supposed to work the other way a round: a threat is found and then the military is dispatched. The military is not supposed to be dispatched in search of a mission.In Congressional testimonybefore the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security Michele Leonhart, Administrator of the DEA told congress “DEA investigative efforts and those of other law enforcement agencies have chronicled the significant increase in the use of Africa as a trans-shipment, storage, cultivation, and manufacturing point for narcotics destined for Europe, and, to a lesser extent, other consumer markets, including the U.S.”Since when does the US Justice Department find it within their mission to protect the borders of Europe from drug smuggling? To one looking in from the outside this certainly fits the classic definition of mission creep.
As has been repeated many times many people say that decriminalization of drugs would take away the profits from the cartels and put an end to the DEA chasing bad guys all around the planet. The often cited example is the prohibition of alcohol in the USA decades ago and the lawlessness which came to an end once prohibition was ended. So we are not going to repeat that often repeated tale here other than to show a graphic to the right given to us by at Online Paralegal Programs which cites some relevant statistics.
Latin America has grown weary of the bloodshed and lawlessness of the drug war. In the absence of leadership from the USA, who they blame as the major consumer, Latin America nations have made some small policy changes. Nothing major is in the works which could affect the USA aside from ideas coming from Uruguay. Here we are going to briefly recite some recent events in the Latin America with regard to drug policy.
In Chile smoking pot is legal as long as one person does this in their house. Selling or growing it is not. Senator Fulvio Rossi says he smokes pot two or three times per month and will propose a bill to allow cultivation of the plant for personal use. Senator Ricardo Lagos Weber, son of the former president who has also called for legalization, says he will join him in proposing this bill.
In a sideline recently the home of a DEA official here was robbed. Most likely the thieves had no idea who was living here. The most interesting aspect to this event is the DEA official was living in the posh Santiago neighborhood of Vitacura. So the DEA is paying much rent to keep their officials here in comfort.
Senator Aníbal Fernández held a hearing this year to consider the decriminalization of marijuana there. But key officials from the Kirchner government failed to show up so presumably that effort is stalled.
The President of Guatemala, where drug-related crime is soaring, floated the idea to decriminalize not just drug use but also drug trafficking. With the support of the Colombia President this idea was presented at the Summit of the Americas where President Obama was in attendance. The Summit handed this issue to the Organization of American States to write a report.
Smoking pot is already legal in Uruguay with the distinct smell of the burning leaves readily detected in outdoor plazas. But the country has had some problems with drug trafficking, so the President proposed that the government will put forth a plan to grow marijuana for those who want to smoke it. Consumers would have to sign up in a registry so that drug tourism would not be encouraged. But the President backpedaled saying he would only put forth the legislation if 60% of the people there would support the initiative. Only about 30% do. But then a government official changed that position again and said the proposition would move forward. Now the President is going around the country explaining his plan and at the same time, in a rather odd coupling of events, putting forth another plan to curb the number of places where alcohol can be sold and put some rules in place where there are apparently few.
The American DEA has moved into Honduras to supplement government efforts to fight drug trafficking there. Sent originally to accompany Honduras police on drug raids, the DEA agents there have taken up arms and killed traffickers there including on one occasion killing civilians although whether these people were actually civilians is still in question.
The President of Bolivia expelled the DEA from the country some years ago. Now he seeks to restore the coca leave to its legal status vis-a-vis United Nations policy saying it is part of the Andean Culture. The coca leave is sold in Bolivia, Peru, and Northern Chile where it is chewed or brewed as a tea.
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