So, is there anything new in the annual 2010 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report from US State?
Guess what? We're still a major money laundering haven. Banks, casinos, prepaid cards, the Colon Free Zone; virtually everything we have in this country in terms of trade, finance and infrastructure has been turned into a laundry vehicle. Real estate too, especially these cocaine towers in the capital.
They said that more than a decade ago as well. Exactly the same. Since then all kinds of measures were introduced, know-your-customer rules, suspicious transaction reporting rules, criminalization of tax evasion, large currency transaction reporting, international agreements, more transparency, privacy waivers for US clients at banks - and it hasn't made any difference at all. Well, just a bit. Money laundering has become more expensive, the banks and the middlemen will charge more than they did in the past. What an accomplishment.
In the section about drugs, it's the same old same old we get every year from those addicts up North. Major transshipment country, drug trafficking everywhere, crime rates going up, so many tons of cocaine seized, efforts stepped up in porous border areas and together with coast guard and what not - and again, it hasn't made any difference at all. Production isn't down, prices aren't up, nothing.
Is it some sort of wacky hobby then, of the fine people of US State, to repeat themselves in voluminous reports every year and push policies that demonstrably have no effect in reducing the drug trade and money laundering? Is it, maybe, an addiction? Well, yes.
Through a piece by the unsurpassed Bill Conroy about the situation on the US-Mexican border (must-read, here), we came across an interview with Charles Bowden, author of "Down by the River", the story about a DEA cop whose brother got killed and who was actively discouraged from finding out what happened. And Bowden says about the drug war:
The United States wants a stable Mexico. Mexico is economically dependent on narco dollars to survive. If you could actually shut down the border and stop the importation of drugs into this country, Mexico would collapse. So it’s a show war. (...) This isn’t some ugly conspiracy by corrupt American presidents. This is what’s called realpolitik. Tolerating the existence of a narco-state in Mexico is preferable to having an economic collapse in Mexico. Successive presidents have looked at the facts and made the same decision. ... It’s simply confronting reality.
Which makes the drug trade a sort of the undesired Down syndrome child of unbridled capitalism. Logic dictates that the same goes for other drug transshipment countries like Panama.
Worse, even: Remember the credit crisis that engulfed the world? The reason that there is anything left of our financial system at all is, I kid you not, drug money:
Antonio Maria Costa, head of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, said he has seen evidence that the proceeds of organised crime were "the only liquid investment capital" available to some banks on the brink of collapse last year. He said that a majority of the $352bn (£216bn) of drugs profits was absorbed into the economic system as a result.
So State can go to hell with their counternarcotics bullshit report. It's a show to pretend the corpse of failed prohibition is still alive, because there is no political support for the only solution that would stop the crime and the violence: legalization.