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Victims of the Balloon Effect: Drug Trafficking and U.S. Policy in Brazil and the Southern Cone of Latin America

NCJ Number
Journal of Social, Political and Economic Studies Volume: 21 Issue: 2 Dated: (Summer 1996) Pages: 115-140
F O Mora
Date Published
26 pages
The drug policies of the United States and their impacts on Brazil and the Southern Cone countries of Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay are examined, with emphasis on the spread of drug trafficking and drug problems in these countries as a result of the eradication and interdiction efforts in Bolivia, Colombia, and Peru.
Before 1989 the United States gave little attention to drug trafficking in Brazil and the Southern Cone, and these countries regarded the war on drugs as a problem that did not involve them. These countries neglected the increasing problem of trafficking, consumption, and money laundering. In addition, the United States indirectly and unwittingly contributed to pushing the drug trade away from the Andean region and toward Brazil and the Southern Cone through a balloon effect. The result has been alarmingly high consumption levels, increased trafficking, more drug-related violence, corruption in high levels of government and military, and ungovernability. Since 1991 the United States has focused on four issues in this region: increased illicit drug trafficking along the Colombian, Peruvian, and Brazilian borders; chemical manufacturing laboratories; money laundering and the lack of adequate legislation to address it; and corruption and violence. The massive efforts against the Cali cartel in Colombia from 1994-96 suggest that a new phase is developing that will further expand and exacerbate the drug problem in Brazil and the Southern Cone. It is unlikely that United States policy will change from the current emphasis on rhetoric and chastising. Footnotes


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