The distribution of free drugs to addicts at specialized government clinics was one of the many suggestions presented during a conference on September 21, 2012, at the south campus of Florida International University (FIU), in Miami, in an effort to prevent the proliferation of transnational criminal organizations (TCO). The seminar served as a forum to talk about a better understanding of the drug problem and how to fight it.
Francisco Dall’Anese, a representative of the Guatemalan International Commission against Impunity, created in 2006 with the approval of the United Nations to investigate serious crimes in that country, suggested the free distribution of drugs. He explained that “only by reducing the financial power and consequently the corrupt force of criminal organizations can there be a drop in the price of drugs and criminal activities.”
The conference, titled “Regional Perspective on Transnational Organized Crime in Latin America and the Caribbean” was jointly organized by the Center of the Administration of Justice – FIU and the United States Special Operations Command. It gathered leaders from the field of security and military members from regional countries, including Colombia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, and the United States.
According to Bruce Bagley, professor of International Affairs at theUniversity of Miami, not only the United States, but all countries must make an effort to mitigate the demand and the internal trade of small weapons. In his opinion, the war on drugs can only prevail “if there is awareness that this is an issue of co-responsibility, not only at a regional level, but rather global.”
For his part, Colombian Army Colonel Jorge H. Romero discussed the origin of guerrilla movements such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and the National Liberation Army (ELN). According to the Colombian liaison officer at the United States Southern Command, despite the substantial reduction in their numbers in the last few years – from 16,000 to approximately 8,000 FARC members, and from 7,000 to 3,000 ELN members – these groups still represent a serious threat to the country and their neighbors. However, Col. Romero believes that the peace talks, which are scheduled to begin in October between President Santos’s government and the leaders of the FARC, will help minimize the guerrilla problem in Colombia.
Representing Trinidad and Tobago, Dr. Anthony Bryan, who has done extensive research on the regional security in Caribbean countries and in the Americas, displayed concern about the weapons that have been “left behind by the drug traffickers,” who use the region as a transit point for drugs. He stated, however, that the Caribbean has been partnering to fight TCOs, and that regional initiatives, such as the CARICOM IMPACS, a program dedicated to reduce crimes particularly involving firearms, should be implemented in other countries.
The consensus reached by attendees at the conference was that a promotion of the region’s sustainable development and a change in its cultural norms will only be possible through a substantial reduction of the criminal activities in the Caribbean and South and Central America. For the participants, it was clear that TCOs are a threat to democracy and other government systems in the Americas, and that no effort must be spared to destroy them.