Issues / Drugs
Violence and warfare in Colombia are often blamed on the drug trade, but their roots run much deeper and go back well over five decades.
The militarization of Washington's Latin America policy is being led by the drug war, training programs, arms transfers, and a wide array of "military-to-military contact" efforts.
The militarization of Latin America, which begins at the U.S.-Mexico border, is undermining recent trends toward greater democratization and respect for human rights while doing little to stanch the flow of drugs into the United States.
U.S. officials have sought to relax restrictions on intelligence sharing with Andean governments at a time when these provisions need to be strengthened.
The Bush administrations Andean Regional Initiative (ARI)largely an expansion of U.S. support for Plan Colombiapassed the House of Representatives in late July, largely intact.
Any antidrug policy that forsakes or underestimates the decisive importance of democratic institutions or economic and social issues will always be counterproductive and play into the hands of drug traffickers.
Whoever is to blame in the Bowers incident, there is no escaping U.S. culpability in a policy that leads to death and destruction and is ultimately ineffective.
We need to shift the policy debate in Colombia so that politicians in Washington begin to feel that they can get more support by developing effective alternatives.
U.S. drug policy has failed to reduce either the overall quantities of drugs produced and delivered or the number of seriously addicted drug abusers in the United States.
What is called drug trafficking in the U.S. is in fact a major, multifaceted, and global industry.