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2011 Marks Lost Drug War Across Latin America

Violence sparked by Drug trafficking and high drug use cost countless lives across Latin America in 2011 depicting the incompetent regional anti-narcotics policies and reviving a legalisation debate....Read More

Posted on : Tuesday, December 13, 2011 12:04 PM
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Dear Sir, The unfortunate diction chosen by your reporter reflects a profound misunderstanding of the issue at hand and of basic economics principles at play. It is inaccurate and, indeed, profoundly unfair to attribute the failure of the war on drugs in Latin America [or in the Golden Crescent region for that matter] to "incompetent regional anti-narcotics policies." Far from involving regional initiatives, the war on drugs is a global strategy framed by several UN Treaties, including the 1961 and 1988 Conventions, among others. Decades ago, these multilateral pacts were built on then-popular, supply-oriented economic assumptions positing that the most effective strategy for addressing global consumption would be attacking the supply chain. However, in the 50 years that have since passed, the world has realized that eradication and interdiction efforts have not dented global consumption to any significant extent, despite the valiant efforts made and the enormous social, political and environmental costs borne by drug-producing countries. Along the way, however, many lost sight of a crucial subtlety that is worth noting: the war on drugs was always intended to be a war on consumption and not on cartels. Indeed, the foremost reason why the global war on drugs has failed is because it has not been directed towards or made any progress in reducing the world's demand for drugs. As we are now realizing, the combination of a complacent attitude towards an ever-growing demand for drugs (driven by the West's insatiable appetite) with a framework that criminalizes every step in the supply-chain does not reduce consumption. Rather, it has led the whole industry towards a black market in which organized crime and insurgent groups compete for huge profits inflated by prohibition. In the underground, political power is bought, the rule of law is corrupted, market share is won by war, and disputes are resolved through violence. Evidently, any policy where the solution generates social costs that outweigh those generated by the problem is a failure. Unless and until the world adopts a new strategy that focuses on reducing global demand, any regional efforts to curb supply will be ineffective, as the balloon effect will simply cause displacements in the supply chain; one producing nation's win will be another's loss. Regards, Camilo De Guzmán Uribe Economist, Attorney at Law Former Candidate for Colombia's House of Representatives
Replied on Tuesday, December 13, 2011 12:04 PM

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