Drug Trafficking and the “War on Drugs” –Sapere Aude!

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With this Immanuel Kant’s phrase (“Sapere Aude”), translated as “Dare to Know!”, the Costa Rican ex-Ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS), Pablo Barahona Krüger, began his talk at ICADS.

This lawyer specialized in Human Rights and Constitutional Law started analyzing the “Drug Trafficking and Organized Crime” topic inviting our Semester Program student to step out of the field of opinions (doxa), and step into the field of knowledge (episteme).

Pablo Barahona gives his talk at ICADS

Krüger presented hard data on profits obtained through drug trafficking in the Americas, noting that a minimum percentage remains in the producer countries. However, the insecurity in these places has risen by leaps and bounds, which is reflected in their increasing homicide rate.

This university professor also pointed out the relationship between drug trafficking and the rise of political figures across the continent, as well as the exchange of drugs for weapons in most producing areas.

Pablo Barahona presents hard data on drug trafficking

On the other hand, the weak socioeconomic situation of most people in Latin America and the Caribbean makes them vulnerable to drug trafficking, due to a limited personal and professional development opportunities for large groups of the population, mostly the young.

Even countries like Costa Rica, with favorable living conditions, are experiencing an increase in the homicide rate to levels of public health problem (12 killings for every 100,000 people in 2016).

 “That rate has nearly doubled since 2002, though it still remains a far cry from neighbors in the Northern Triangle such as El Salvador (104 killings per 100,000 people) and Honduras (61 killings per 100,000 people), according to 2015 World Bank data.” (Krumholtz, 2017)

How to solve this drug trafficking epidemy?  Since it is a multidimensional problem, it must be approached from many fronts.

Krüger stressed that, in the case of Costa Rica, international agreements and assistance have been very helpful, but we cannot stop looking inwards. Corruption in high positions is allowing the drug business, so citizens must be vigilant and demand the cleaning of institutions, without neglecting social sensitivity, especially when addressing “small” drug traffickers.

“Nobody was born as a criminal, but we (the society) produce them because we don’t give them (better) opportunities”, concluded Krüger.

During the fifth and final week of the Semester Program Block I, students continued to delve into this topic from a critical and purposeful perspective, basically around three axes: drug war, geopolitics and neocolonialism; consequences and externalities of the supply and demand chain, and alternatives to the war on drugs.

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