Monday, October 1, 2018

How U.S. Policy Drives Latin America's Homicides

The United States is hurting instead of helping.
The Washington Post published this interesting editorial yesterday about Latin America's homicide plague: It is the planet's most homicidal region, a problem which the author blames on poor governance.

The editorial board is half correct. When parties in dispute lack confidence in the legal system, or
A homicide scene in Mexico, where much of
the violence is driven by the illegal drug trade.
(Photo: The Economist)
when the legal system doesn't fulfill its role of punishing criminals, then its more likely for people to turn to violence.

But the people in dispute also need a motive to turn to violence, and the commentry left out that part. After all, large parts of Africa and Asia also lack rule of law and functioning legal systems, but generally don't suffer from the same levels of violence as Latin America. What's the difference?

The difference is that Latin America is ground zero for much of the world's illegal drug trade. Narcotraffickers by nature cannot use the legal system, so they often turn to violence. Needless to say, if buying and selling cocaine and marijuana were not illegal, then they'd be traded by legal companies, which would sue each other instead of shooting.

Add in the fact that Latin American criminal groups have relatively easy access to firearms purchased in the United States and you have a lethal mix.

Before trying to help Latin America, the United States could stop hurting the region.

By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours

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