To the editor:
I am writing this while taking a break from cleaning my house as I get it ready for the tenants who are moving in next week, and while I finish packing for my annual migration north to Massachusetts.
As I prepare to leave here this year, I am filled with a sense of foreboding as to what the future holds, not just for Costa Rica, but for all of Central America.
I say that because recent events have made it clear the Obama administration has no intention of rethinking the 40-year-old failed "War on Drugs" and, in fact, appears determined to double down on a militaristic approach that has, overall, been an abysmal failure since Richard Nixon initiated it four decades ago.
Central America is rapidly becoming a killing field, as international narco-traffickers use the countries of the region as transit points for drugs en route from the world's largest producer nation, Colombia, to the world's largest consumer nation, the USA. It is estimated that 90 percent of the cocaine moving from Colombia to the U.S. now passes through the countries of the isthmus.
The profits these criminal enterprises reap each year are greater than most Central American countries' military and law enforcement budgets. Those profits allow the criminals to unduly influence and corrupt public figures at every level of government.
In addition, those profits allow the traffickers to provide good paying "jobs" to small armies of foot soldiers who enforce the traffickers' will on entire communities.
In response to this deteriorating situation, the new president of Guatemala has proposed that a serious discussion be held as to the possible merits of countries in the region decriminalizing, or even legalizing, certain drugs in an effort to cut into the huge profits the current prohibition affords the traffickers.
That has elicited an angry and defensive response from the Obama administration. And the right-wing government of Colombian President Juan Maria Santos and the Obama administration have announced plans for the two countries to combine forces and work together to combat narco-trafficking in Central America.
That is why I and many people I know and respect are so worried.
Colombia is second only to Israel in terms of the amount of military aid it receives from the U.S. An increased, joint military approach to the narco-trafficking crisis in Central America by the U.S. and Colombia is doomed to fail.
Just look at Mexico if you have any doubts. The cartels are not going to be defeated militarily; to believe they can be is a pipe dream.
I would ask friends on Cape Ann to please let John Tierney, John Kerry and Scott Brown know that you have serious reservations about the U.S. becoming increasingly involved militarily in Central America in the name of the "War on Drugs," especially when that involvement is all but doomed to fail.
It is not being melodramatic to say the lives of many good and innocent people here are likely hanging in the balance.
Puerto Veijo de Limon, Costa Rica