The war on drugs has been of great concern the past half century among the Americas. Since President Richard Nixon’s declaration of the war in 1969, this war has expended millions of dollars supplied by both the United States as well as many South American countries to pose no result. “With ample resources and a strategy of eradication and interdiction, the cocaine industry of Latin America could be brought to its knees. We are losing the war on drugs largely because our Government has not taken the initiative to provide the ammunition or a battle plan for victory” . Without the proper support from the governments involved, this has lead the ongoing and dragging war on drugs. This has put significant stress in small communities and has led to a higher risk of violence. Countries that are indirectly affected such as Jamaica has seen an increase of “75% of homicides” that are tied to drug trafficking . This ongoing war has allowed many of the drug cartels to expand their territory and influence among the poor South American communities.
The war on drugs was declared July 14, 1969 under President Richard Nixon of the United States. This war began a lapse of seizing various drugs like cocaine in Columbia and marijuana. In July of 1973, Nixon created the Drug Enforcement Administration; paired with other agencies to seize and detain drug abusers and dispensers. With the aid of Columbian police, they managed to seize 600 kilograms of cocaine being transported on a plane. In response, drug traffickers retaliate with what is known today as “Medellin Massacre”, killing more than forty people thus cementing the power of the cocaine industry in Columbia. As the Medellin Cartel become more powerful, they join with many other drug lords at the time such as Pablo Escobar and work together to ship cocaine to the U.S. in 1981. This power struggle between the DEA and the many drug lords continue for another decade. The power of finally shifts after President Clinton signs the North American Free Trade Agreement which increases the amount trade transported across the U.S.-Mexico border, thus making it more difficult for the U.S. to seize drugs.  The war on drugs continue after half a century. The amount still being moved in and out of South America is still in mass quantities. Many of the powerful drug lords have been killed or captured, but their industry still grows because of how much power they control over the lower class of citizens in their countries.
One of the very reasons for the growth and expansion begins with the publicity and the fear the drug cartel and the drug lords fed off. It is thought that a major contributor to this publication roots from the television show, “Miami Vice” which showcases one of the prime drug cartel ridden country, Columbia, as a “violent, sordid, and corrupt nation.  This depiction of Columbia created a fear among the American population. In 1970s, there was a marijuana boom and a vast majority was exported to the United States. There was a hysteria that Americans blamed Columbians for making Americans victims of this drug trade. After the marijuana boom in 1970s, Columbian traffickers switched to cocaine in 1980 which guaranteed more profit.
After this transition to cocaine there was an increase of violent crime. These spikes in violence contributed more to the fear that the United States was growing and refusing to aid. Drug lords began going public, “they gave interviews, started newspapers, bought professional soccer teams and contributed to political campaigns” . This leniency towards drug traffickers allowed even the those with little power to rise, to taunt and control the Columbian government. While the DEA contributes $350,000 for antinarcotics to the Columbian government, it is not enough to stop the fifty-thousand jungle laboratories.  Money however cannot solve this foregoing issue because the amount of money that is funded against the drug cartels, the drug cartels earn more through distribution.
The Favelas of Rio began by the end of the nineteenth because of poor political change. Rio de Janeiro is the second largest city in the country that contained one of the most porous slums that housed many of the lower-class citizens that was seemingly ignored by the city and state government. In hindsight, the Favelas soon became a breeding ground for disease and crime.
In the 1940s, mayor Henrique Dodsworth had a plan that would attempt to remove the Favelas by providing temporary housing until the government could afford permanent housing.  Although this plan worked for a short period of time, it soon faltered. This became a gateway for drug trafficking in the 1980s and the Favelas became the center of international trade for illicit drugs and had exported to the United States and Europe. In the book, Voices of Latin American Life : Living in the Crossfire : Favela Residents, Drug Dealers, and Police Violence in Rio de Janeiro, it says from accounts that experienced it, that many of the drug lords that came and entered the Favelas soon provided services to those who resided there such as cable, water, power, including cooking oil.  There were young adolescents that were dragged into the drug trade because the fear the drug lords imposed on them or residents trying to provide for themselves and families. The drug wars began to control how the citizen interacted publicly, they had to quit jobs, school, or even move to different areas.  Many of those involved in the drug trade were former police or militia that have nowhere else to work because of poor planning done by the Brazilian government.
Latin America has been one of the top priority concerns for the United States because of its proximity. In the study done by Isaac Campos, Degeneration, and the Origins of Mexico’s War on Drugs, drug regulation in Mexico began much prior to the start of the War on Drugs. In 1919, they used the word “degeneration” instead of the war on drugs because they believed it would have more of an impact and disapproval against drugs but not tightly regulated.  Strict regulations against traffickers that were never truly imposed has led to increase of trafficking along the United States-Mexican border. “Based on the rule of thumb often cited by law-enforcement officials that only 10 percent to 15 percent of the drug flow is discovered and seized.”  From those deliveries, roughly five to seven tons of narcotics are hauled into the United States.
Those harboring’s are believed to be carried out by two of the major Mexican cartels, located in Tijuana and the other in Ciudad Juarez. Although patrol and regulation along the border has increased and have become stricter, these traffickers have begun using ships and various packaging to disguise drugs. However, that may not only be the issue. There has been numerous accounts of violence and corruption at the border, and in some cases traffickers would pay law enforcement millions of dollars just to pass through.  Despite the work that the United States is doing to prevent drug trafficking in Latin America, it has shown to cause more harm than good. In the 1990s, the United States attacked Panama and in that attack, Peru declined meeting with the United States in a meeting on drugs.  The motion to no longer aid in the resistance to drug cartels has led many to believe that Peru could be a “sanctuary” for drug lords because it grows more than 70 percent of the coca plants that is used in cocaine and is heavily involved in drug trafficking.  Much of the trafficking has been on the mainland of Latin America and has “eclipsed” much of the Caribbean drug trade. Most recently, the DEA reported more than 87 tons of cocaine seized in 2012 and that value doubled the previous year.  In the 1990s, the Caribbean was known for where the drug cartels of Columbia would hide out before sailing to Florida, it was a strong route for almost all traffickers. Since then however, the amount of violence has grown along with the number of traffickers going through the Caribbean.
Drug trafficking has shown to have a negative effect on very rural communities in South America. The war on drugs declared by President Richard Nixon has brought concern to neighboring countries, but has been to no avail as communities are still tormented by violence and fear like in Columbia or Peru. There are still notorious drug cartels that are controlling lower class societies such as the Favelas in Brazil or the Caribbean that had no desire to join until forced.
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Figure 1: Pablo Escobar in Bogota, Columbia. Forbes magazine lists him as the seventh-richest man in the world. 1989 http://media.npr.org/programs/atc/features/2007/apr/drugwars/timeline/escobar350-5d1334dc8a591ab0e47d5ea2ba4f9465eacd1c59-s400-c85.jpg
Figure 2: Favelas of Rio de Janeiro https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Favela
Figure 3: Map of distribution among Central America. https://thegreenpulpit.com/tag/colombia/