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Ending the Drug War in Latin America

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Drug Warby Jacob G. Hornberger

The Internet is abuzz with talk about how Latin American leaders are increasingly considering the idea of drug legalization.

Latin America should not hesitate to end the war on drugs — and the sooner, the better. Latin American countries are paying the biggest price for the drug war. Murders, assassinations, kidnappings, robberies, thefts, muggings, gang wars, infringements on civil liberties, military involvement in law enforcement, foreign interference in domestic affairs (especially by the U.S. government), and, of course, massive political corruption.

Black markets — illegal markets — produce all of those sorts of things. That’s what prohibition of alcohol did and what prohibition of drugs does. Legalization would eliminate it all, immediately.

Sure, U.S. officials would go bananas. Almost certainly, they would threaten a cut off of foreign aid to any nation that legalizes drugs.

The fact is that the U.S. government, the state governments, and local governments have become dependent on the drug war. Many law-enforcement officials and judges are on the take and have been for a long time.

There are also the asset forfeiture laws, which enable law-enforcement agencies to seize (i.e., steal) people’s personal assets and convert them to law-enforcement ownership and use.

There is also the power factor to consider. Drug-enforcement agents love to lord it over the citizenry by abusing and harassing them with drug laws. It’s a mentality that says, “We control you, not the other way around. We dominate you. We order you. And you’ll submit and obey when we tell you not to possess or sell substances that we don’t approve of.”

And, of course, there is the racial bigotry factor. For a bigot, there is nothing better than the drug war. By becoming a law-enforcement officer, a bigot is able to harangue blacks and Hispanics to his heart’s content, and it’s all legal. And if his victim objects or talks back, the cop has the perfect excuse to bash his head in. After all, who’s a jury going to believe — someone dressed in a police uniform or someone from the ghetto?

Latin Americans have the opportunity to lead the world out of one of the biggest and most destructive government disasters in history. To heck with what U.S. officials say or do. Latin Americans should just end the war on drugs within their countries. It’s the only way to restore peace and harmony.

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of the Future of Freedom Foundation.


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