All the (drug) news that’s fit to print

03Jul10

Just a couple of days ago, I vowed to start paying more attention to the news. I subscribe to the local paper, but my mornings are usually a bit too rushed to read it from cover to cover. So I decided to download the Associated Press application for my phone.

To my delight, the AP app offered Spanish versions of most of the articles. And to my glee, AP also gave me the option of following the main stories from Latin America.

My delight turned to surprise when the stories started streaming in: Is it just me, or is 40% of the news from Latin America related to drugs?

First, there was the brief about the replica World Cup trophy that authorities seized in Colombia. It was made out of 24 pounds of cocaine. The article didn’t list the street value (probably because most calculators don’t have that many zeros).

Then, I spotted another article about a drug-smuggling submarine that Ecuadorean and DEA officials intercepted over the weekend. Built in a remote area of the Colombian jungle, it was seized before it could complete its maiden voyage. The homemade vessel was primitive, but it ran on diesel (great gas mileage!) and had air-conditioning.

Then there was the article about a Brazilian drug trafficker who was nabbed in Paraguay. Erineo Domingo “Pingo” Soligno was arrested on Saturday as he slept in his hacienda. Talk about a rude awakening.

And then there was the dispatch about the tension in Mexico on Saturday as more than 107 million people in 14 states turned out to vote. “Many of these people are besieged by the violence of narcotrafficking,” read the article. What a polite way of saying that many of these people are living under the constant threat of violence and death.

It might be easy to dismiss these stories as somebody else’s problem, except that the U.S. is complicit.

According to an article in Time, if the cocaine trade the were to form a single corporation, it would probably rank seventh on the Fortune 500 list, between Ford Motor Co. ($37 billion in revenue) and Gulf Oil Corp. ($26.5 billion). And that was in 1981.

There are no easy answers, of course. Cocaine can be dangerous, so it probably shouldn’t be legalized. But the black market it has spawned is dangerous, as well. There are programs out there that are trying to help farmers make the right choices. But in the end, money speaks loudest.

When did the world get so complicated?



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