“We, Hondurans, have lost the right to live without fear.”

From Yahoo! News:

The 2011 Global Study on Homicide calculated a rate of 82.1 homicides per 100,000 people for Honduras and 66 per 100,000 people for El Salvador. Cote D’Ivoire in West Africa followed with 56.9 and the Caribbean nation of Jamaica with 52.1. The United States had a homicide rate of 5 per 100,000 people in 2009, the report said.

Honduras Human Rights Commissioner Ramon Custodio said Thursday that he was worried about rising crime and feared worse figures are yet to come.

“We, Hondurans, have lost the right to live without fear,” Custodio said in a news statement.

He said the enemy in the 1980s was the army, police and secret corps, but now the threat is organized crime.

U.S. officials say crackdowns on drug cartels in Mexico and Colombia have pushed gang activity to Central America, which has long been a lucrative corridor for trafficking.

(H/T to FP.)

This is in part due to the “balloon effect.” The drugs entering America used to be trafficked from Colombia through the Caribbean. Due to a nationwide crackdown on the Cali and Medellin drug cartels and to increased control of the Caribbean waters by the U.S., the balloon was squeezed and expanded in Mexico. As crackdowns in Mexico squeeze the balloon it expands southward into Central America. Already plagued by high levels of violence, their situation worsens.

This is far more of a concern for Mexico and their southern neighbors than it is for the US. Mark Kleiman calls this the “great asymmetry.

Mexico and the United States do not occupy symmetrical positions in the binational drug situation. The United States is central to Mexico’s drug problem, whereas Mexico is incidental to that of the United States. Before the mid-1980s, when the heavy use of U.S. naval and air power shut off the Caribbean smuggling route from Colombia to the Gulf Coast, Mexico was not the main source or transit country for illicit drugs entering the United States. But the U.S. drug problem was at least as severe then as it is now. By contrast, Mexico’s current drug-trafficking problems relate almost entirely to exports to the United States. In other words, if the United States stopped importing drugs, Mexico’s drug violence would shrink dramatically. But an end to Mexican exports would, once new routes and sources replaced Mexico in serving the U.S. market, have only a modest impact on the U.S. drug problem.

If stronger Mexican efforts against drug trafficking could substantially reduce drug abuse in the United States, Washington’s repeated demands for more vigorous law enforcement in Mexico would have some real basis. But to call on Mexico to make increasing sacrifices for no more potential benefit than redirecting the flow of illicit trade is surely unjustifiable. The upsurge in violence since Mexican President Felipe Calderón began his crackdown against traffickers in 2007 shows how increased enforcement can lead to increased bloodshed.

This line of reasoning seems to support the reply U.S. officials often hear when they demand that Mexico strengthen its antidrug efforts: that the basic problem is not supply from Mexico but demand from the United States, and that it is incumbent on the United States to reduce the quantities of illicit drugs its residents sell, buy, and consume.

If only we could help them pop the balloon.

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1 Comment

Filed under Drug Wars, Latin America, Mexico

One response to ““We, Hondurans, have lost the right to live without fear.”

  1. Pingback: The balloon expands into Costa Rica | Thoughts on the Passing Scene

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