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'Tripod' of Legalizing, Regulating Drugs Only Way to Win 'War'
email this pageprint this pageemail usMichael Cook - Gloucester Times
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June 21, 2010


What is infuriatingly ironic to me is neither the U.S. government nor the American people seem to realize, or take any responsibility for the fact that cartels get their great power from three main sources the demand for drugs in the United States, the huge profits that demand generates, and lax U.S. gun laws that allow the cartels easy access to the kinds of weapons that, in reality, make them better armed than many countries' police forces and militaries in the region.
Related article: Telling the Truth on Drugs, Border Issues

Legalize them. Regulate them. Tax them.

Those steps are what I refer to as the "Tripod of Victory in the War on Drugs."

It is time for both the U.S. government and the American people to admit our so called "War on Drugs" is an abject failure.

It is time for the U.S. government and the American people to admit it is both the demand for drugs in the United States, coupled with our lax gun laws and easy access to military style weaponry, that is then shipped south of the border by U.S. arms traffickers in pursuit of big profits fueling the bloodshed in Mexico and in other countries further south in Central America, including Costa Rica.

It is time for the xenophobes who use the crime and bloodshed south of the border as a rationale for their immigrant bashing to face reality.

The cartels may, indeed, have made small inroads in a few American cities, but the truth is violent crime, whether drug related or not, according to a recent study conducted by the FBI, is down all across the country, even in Phoenix, El Paso, and San Diego, where the xenophobes would have people believe Mexican cartel "jefes" now control those cities, and every latin looking immigrant is a likely cartel member.

It is a bogus assertion that may make for good right wing, Tea Party, white fright politics, but it is not a reflection of reality on the ground.

If anything, as Mexican President Felipe Calderon has conducted his heroic war on the cartels, many of the cartels are retreating south to countries in Central America, not moving north across the border as the American xenophobes assert.

Nothing exemplifies that reality more than what is happening with the notoriously vicious "Zeta" cartel. Under mounting pressure from the Mexican authorities, the Zetas have retreated south across the border into Guatemala where they now control vast amounts of territory.

This southward migration of Mexican cartels, coupled with the northward migration of Colombian cartels under pressure from U.S. forces there, is quickly transforming Central America into a literal "cartel playground" in countries ill equipped to counter their growing influence, given the financial and fire power the cartels possess.

In Costa Rica, for example, much of the country's Pacific commercial fishing fleet is under the control of the FARC, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia. The FARC funds its war against the Colombian government largely via the profits it takes in from the cocaine it moves to the lucrative U.S. market. Costa Rica's Pacific fishing fleet has become an important link in the transport of that cocaine from Colombia to the U.S.

Last year, in the capital city of San Jose, the chief of the metropolitan police force was arrested on charges he was accepting bribes from both Colombian and Jamaican cartels in exchange for letting them conduct their business freely in the city.

The OIJ, Costa Rica's version of the FBI, estimated as many as one in four metropolitan police officers were also on the payrolls of the two cartels.

What is infuriatingly ironic to me is neither the U.S. government nor the American people seem to realize, or take any responsibility for the fact that cartels get their great power from three main sources the demand for drugs in the United States, the huge profits that demand generates, and lax U.S. gun laws that allow the cartels easy access to the kinds of weapons that, in reality, make them better armed than many countries' police forces and militaries in the region.

This "War on Drugs" is lost folks, and unless we implement the "tripod" and take the power away from the cartels, it probably is only a matter of time until some cartel "jefe" controls a city like Phoenix, El Paso, or San Diego no matter how high the wall the xenophobes build might be.

And if that day comes, responsibility will rest on the shoulders of those Americans who insisted on living in denial and playing games with the truth in order to score cheap, short term, race based, political points in their pursuit of power.

Michael Cook is a summer resident of Gloucester, Mass. and a winter resident of PV de Limon, Costa Rica.



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