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Destroying the Switzerland of Central America

Costa RicaLeave it to the U.S. national-security state to destroy another country, this one being Costa Rica, known as the “Switzerland of Central America” and whose national slogan is “pura vida”—“pure life.”

How is the U.S. government now destroying Costa Rica? No, not with bombs or missiles—at least not yet—but with its much-vaunted drug war, which the Pentagon and the CIA are expanding in Latin America since that their adventures in Afghanistan and the Middle East might be winding down.

According to an Associated Press article last February entitled, “Costa Rica Partners with US on Drug War" :

This prosperous paradise of golden beaches and lush cloud-forest preserves is throwing itself wholeheartedly into the U.S. war on drugs as a flood of cocaine shipments and a surge in domestic crime erodes Costa Ricans’ sense of proud isolation from the problems of the rest of Central America.

Does anyone in Costa Rica really believe that the militarization of Costa Rican society is going to have any significant effect on the 40-year-old war on drugs? If drug-war crackdowns were successful, the war on drugs would have been over decades ago. What Costa Ricans apparently don’t realize is that the fiercer they crack down in the war on drugs, the more they move in the direction of Mexico, where the drug-war death toll now numbers in the tens of thousands.

How many more people have to be killed or injured or have their lives ruined by the drug war before people finally call an end to it? How many more countries need to be militarized and destroyed before people say enough is enough? How much freedom and privacy need to be infringed upon before people end this 40-year-old madness?

Before Costa Ricans let the Pentagon and the CIA lead them down this primrose path, they should take note of something important: The American people themselves will not permit the Pentagon and the CIA to participate in the drug war here within the United States. That’s because the American people consider it a bad thing to have the military and the CIA engaging in law enforcement within our country. We don’t want our country militarized, not even in the name of the much-vaunted war on drugs.

So, what does the U.S. government do? Knowing that the American people don’t want the military and the CIA enforcing the drug war here in the United States, U.S. officials simply send them south, to do to Costa Rica what we won’t permit them to do here in the United States. Why can’t Costa Ricans see the hypocrisy in such a policy?

Fortunately, there are a few people in Costa Rica who have a good handle on what’s going on. The Associated Press article states:

But a small group of critics fears that the orderly and deeply democratic nation known as “the Switzerland of Central America” may be losing fundamental aspects of its identity by implementing its own version of the “iron fist” policies around the region. “The United States’ fight against drugs, militarizing it, using violence, above all in the cases of Colombia and Mexico, hasn’t led to results,” said Carmen Munoz, a congresswoman who oversees human rights and national security issues for the opposition Citizens’ Action Party and has worked to block U.S. warships from landing at Costa Rican ports. “We have a tremendous fear that their goal is also to militarize the war against drugs in Central America,” she said.

After 40 years of drug-war death, violence, corruption, injury, destruction, ruination, militarization, spending, debt, and loss of liberty, the best thing the Costa Ricans could ever do for themselves is boot the Pentagon and the CIA out of their country and legalize drugs. In the process, they could lead Americans out of our 40-year-old drug-war morass.

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation.

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