Peru: the New King of Cocaine

Two lines of cocaine. Image: Nightlife of Revelry/Flickr

This article was originally published by the World Policy Institute on 3 February 2015.

The home of cocaine production has a new address. Stepping out from behind the shadows of its more notorious peers in the region, Peru is taking the helm from its South American neighbors as the leading producer of cocaine in the world. While Colombia’s production declines due to concerted efforts by both its government and U.S. foreign agencies (along with FARC being open to negotiations), a once dormant industry from Peru’s troubled past has resurfaced to meet market demand.

In the early 1990s, Peru was a major producer of cocaine but was eventually surpassed by Colombia following aggressive government policies in Peru to combat the black market trade. These policies have faded over time, and thus the expansion of cocaine growing has boomed once again. » More

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Mexico’s Low Point

Mexican flag. Image: Lisette/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by theIPI Global Observatory on 21 November 2014.

Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto is in the most difficult period of his presidency, with vociferous protests over the disappearance of 43 teachers-in-training in the state of Guerrero fueling angry calls for his resignation. At the same time, his government is facing accusations of corruption. Taken together, the two problems seriously undermine the image of Mexico that the president and his team have worked to promote around the globe. » More

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Review – Mexican Cartel Essays and Notes

Police take a suspected drug trafficker off a helicopter

Police take a suspected drug trafficker off a helicopter in Hermosillo in the state of Sonora, Mexico. Photo: Knight Foundation/flickr.

Mexican Cartel Essays and Notes is a collection of twenty-three Small Wars Journal (SWJ) articles supplemented by operational and tactical notes covering a variety of cartel-related subjects. With a preface by Major General (ret) Robert Scales and foreword by Texas Agricultural Commissioner Todd Staples, this volume, edited by Robert J. Bunker, collates much of the extant material and analysis available on the Mexican drug cartels published in the El Centro section of the SWJ between 27 May 2011 and 30 November 2012. Mexican Cartel Essays and Notes follows an initial anthology, Mexico’s Criminal Insurgency (May 2012). It paints a consolidated picture of the effects cartels have on governments and social constructs. The influence of cartels on all aspects of Mexican life, and their ever-expanding influence on life in the Border States and deeper into the U.S. is frightening when viewed in context and within a single volume.
Dr. Bunker’s innovative approach and selected content reflect deep concern with the growing threat posed by cartels in light of the U.S.’s failure to provide secure borders for its citizens and states. Through the volume’s consolidation of the works of thirty-two contributing authors, the perspectives and analyses of the cartel problem therein are wide ranging, covering various issues such as diversified income streams, cartel conflicts with U.S. law enforcement, human trafficking, and government corruption. Fundamental to such an approach is the desire to produce a centralized source of information that can be utilized by multiple stakeholders: policy makers to inform decision making; academics to draw on for future research; and educators to inculcate the long-standing Mexican cartel problem into discussions on the realities of transnational crime, human and narcotics trafficking, and the spread of violence and corruption across international boundaries. » More

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Three Strikes Against the Drug War


Drugs, Colombia, 2010. Photo: Galería de ► Bee, like bees! <3/flickr.

MEXICO CITY – The last two months have witnessed more far-reaching changes on the drug-policy scene in Latin America and the United States than in all previous decades combined. Three fundamental shifts have occurred, each of which would be important on its own; taken together, they may be a game-changer that finally ends the hemisphere’s failed war on drugs.

First and foremost were the referenda on marijuana legalization in the US states of Colorado and Washington on November 6. For the first time, voters in the country that is the world’s largest consumer of illicit drugs in general, and marijuana in particular, approved propositions legalizing possession, production, and distribution of cannabis – and by relatively broad margins.

While a similar initiative failed in Oregon, and Proposition 19 (which called for limited legalization of cannabis) was defeated in California in 2010 (by seven percentage points), the outcome in Colorado and Washington sent a powerful message to the rest of the US. The results have not only created a conflict between US federal law and state legislation, but also signal a shift in attitudes not dissimilar to that concerning same-sex marriage. » More

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Mexico, USA: Who Will Pay the Price for Wal-Mart’s Corruption?

President Calderon with Walmart CEO

President Calderon (right) met with Walmart CEO Michael T. Duke in Cartagena, Colombia in April 2012 and his office issued a statement and this photo.

There have been better times to be associated with Wal-Mart. In 2011, for example, it was named in the top 10 most transparent corporations in Mexico [ES]. Yet one of the world’s largest corporations is taking a hit after evidence surfaced that their Mexican subsidiary paid US$24 million in bribes to Mexican officials between 2002 and 2005. According to an investigation by the New York Times, Wal-Mart has kept this information quiet since 2005, when a former employee in Mexico blew the whistle. Taking every opportunity to call out bad practices at the company, Wal-Mart reform advocacy and employee groups jumped on the scandal, calling on Wal-Mart’s CEO to resign in an online petition started by Organization United for Respect at Wal-Mart (Our Wal-Mart) on » More

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