Monday, May 7, 2012
Trends and Rising Illicit Drug Use in Argentina
What has certainly been of pressing concern this year
is the future for continued democracy in Latin America. Although the northern cone nations of Central America, as well
as several of their South American neighbors, continue to demonstrate unstable positions of democratic government, Argentina
is exhibiting even weaker enforcement of law and order.
Argentina is a
beautiful and vibrant country with incredible natural resources. As well, Argentina has traditionally radiated freedom
and an intense patriotic pride, and it has been a good ally of the U.S. Much of the U.S. culture is seen in Argentina's
Argentina's diverse and rich culture of Spanish, Italian and
other European origins has uniquely placed the country in a previous posture of friendly open arms. Yet now, it is hardly
recognizable from the standpoint of government left-leaning agendas that threaten freedoms and a previous vivacious quality
It is hoped that President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and
her closest government advisers are not standing at attention to the rhetorical meanderings of Venezuela's leftist President
Hugo Chavez's -- leaning away from an erect posture of firm democratic decisions to a somewhat out of full control and
non-transparent political mode.
Chavez's meddling in Argentina's
political affairs and reputation became clear in November 2005, at the Summit of the Americas in Mar del Plata. Chavez rallied
and joined 20,000 people in a soccer stadium, coyly enlisting Argentina's legendary soccer hero Diego Maradona -- a loyal
fanatic of Chavez, Fidel Castro, and the former Argentine revolutionist Che Guevara. The rally was obviously an orchestration
to take advantage of the world media in order to demonstrate hatred of the U.S. Voracious shouts of "exterminate
the empire" (a popular and current Chavez chant) were followed by a tirade of Chavez expletives.
Later, the Chavez regime was accused of funneling "hundreds of thousands of dollars" to the presidential
campaign of Cristina in 2007, as Chavez was planning to visit Argentina in August "to refinance billions of U.S. dollars
in Argentine debt through bond purchases and announce a natural gas deal."
On August 4, 2007, Guido Alejandro Antonini Wilson and Venezuelan state officials arrived in Argentina on a private
flight -- hired by Argentine and Venezuelan state oil officials -- carrying US$790,550 in cash. Wilson did not declare
the money upon arrival. Opponents and critics immediately pounced on the incident as proof that Chavez "was buying the
support of the Kirchner government and proof of corruption." Cristina took office as president in October 2007.
Hugo Chavez's decision to kick the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) out of
Venezuela also caught on with Bolivia's leftist President Evo Morales. Furthermore, Ecuador's Rafael Correa refused
to renew the drug interdiction base at Manta for U.S. drug interdiction efforts in the region. And Argentina's cooperation
with interdiction efforts has also waned, resulting in an increased prominence in the drug trade; and earning it the label
of "the new narco state" according to a number of pundits.
was recently reported that Argentina has the highest prevalence of cocaine use among adults in South America. From a previously
secondary shipping hub for drugs destined for Europe, international trafficking groups have now expanded their activities
within Argentina, "increasing exportation and transforming it from a transit point into a destination for consumption
In 2008, Argentina "surpassed
its neighbors and the U.S. as the highest prevalence of cocaine use in the Western Hemisphere," according to an April
19 piece in Foreign Affairs. "Argentines now consume five times more cocaine than the global average and [have] one of the highest usage
rates in the world."
As equally troubling for Argentina is their
listing by the U.S. as a destination country for women and children trafficked for sexual and labor exploitation. Most victims
in this human trafficking are brought from rural to urban areas to be exploited.
Moreover, President Christina Fernandez de Kirchner raised eyebrows after joining neighboring leftist governments
in voting to support a Palestinian state.
An early advisor and "global
political strategist" to Hugo Chavez, Norberto Ceresole, advised that Latin America "must forge alliances with Arab
nations to fight against the U.S.," and what he called "the Jewish financial mafia." Chavez subsequently played
a major role at the first South American-Arab Summit in Brazil, attacking the U.S. and Israel as the chief enemies of Latin
On 25 October 2010, President Fernandez de Kirchner presided
over a ceremony reopening the Pilcaniyeu (Rio Negro) uranium enrichment complex, where she emphasized "the peaceful intentions
of the project."
And now, the Argentine President has announced that
her government will seize controlling interest in the YPF oil company in Argentina, 51 percent of which is owned by the Spanish
oil concern Repsol. This action mirrors many of Chavez's actions in nationalizing businesses in Venezuela, which
subsequently caught on in Ecuador and Bolivia.
Argentina is clearly
up to its waist in festering alligators, representing an ever increasing fall into the serious mistakes of neighboring leftist
dictatorships that have left their homelands with increasingly violent crime and economic despair. Even the elusive
fugitive Mexican drug lord "El Chapo" (Shorty) Guzman was reported to be living in Argentina until 2011.
Jerry Brewer is C.E.O. of Criminal Justice International Associates, a global threat mitigation
firm headquartered in northern Virginia. His website is located at http://www.cjiausa.org/.