US Drug Laws Destabilize Other Nations

This article in USA Today is headlined, “El Salvador: World’s New Murder Capital.”  El Salvador’s murder rate is 104 per 100,000 population, and as the article notes, this is a national average.  “If you start looking at where the pockets of violence are, it’s shocking.”

Why are things so bad in El Salvador?  The article says, “All countries south of the U.S. border face the same problem: cartels and gangs fighting to control smuggling of drugs and people to the United States and infiltrating government institutions to help them.”

It should be difficult for Americans to support domestic policies that have such pernicious effects overseas.

The effects spill over at home too.  The article says, “The surge in violence explains why thousands of Salvadorans and other Central Americans have fled to the United States and why immigration officials are stepping up efforts to send them back home.”

The drug war clearly compromises individual liberty at home.  Freedom has no meaning if people are only free to engage in activities that meet with government approval.  I could list a host of other negative consequences stemming from the war on drugs, but I will save that for another time, to emphasize how our domestic policies have had such negative consequences for our neighbors.

Randall G. Holcombe is Research Fellow at the Independent Institute and DeVoe Moore Professor of Economics at Florida State University. His Independent books include Housing America: Building Out of a Crisis (edited with Benjamin Powell); and Writing Off Ideas: Taxation, Foundations, and Philanthropy in America .
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