Monday, July 30, 2012

The Brazilian Connection

Brazil shares borders with Colombia, Peru and Bolivia and has eight thousand kilometers of coastline.

Those borders are porous and the coast is ill-patrolled.

So, even though the authorities manage to do a lot of busts, it’s still a snap to smuggle-in cocaine...

...and crack.

And Brazil is one of the cheapest places in the world to buy it.

Quite naturally, domestic usage has swelled in recent years.

And the violence that accompanies the trade has flared.

Of the fifty most violent cities in the world fourteen are now in Brazil (Twelve in Mexico, Five in Colombia, Forty in Latin America).

The murder rate in Maceio is up one hundred and eighty percent from ten years ago.

And in Bahia, it grew four-hundred-and-thirty percent between 1999 and 2008.
But it’s not just an internal problem.

Brazil is an important conduit for transshipment. Thousands of tons of drugs pass through the country on their way to Europe.

A hundred grams of cut cocaine, bought on the street in Rio de Janeiro for twelve hundred dollars, can be sold in Helsinki for more than thirteen thousand.
With profits like those, thousands of amateurs are being tempted to try their luck, travelling to Europe frequently...

...and being apprehended in ever-increasing numbers.
The Brazilian government recently earmarked the equivalent of six point three billion dollars to secure the country’s borders and an additional two billion to curb the spread of crack.
A necessary measure, perhaps, but also a tremendous waste.

How much better it would have been if the same amount of money could have been spent on better schools, better health care and lifting families out of poverty.
Leighton - Monday  


  1. The World Cup should be fun. It could give those rowdy English supporters a new reason for fighting.

  2. If only the drug traffickers (and the rowdy English football supporters, for that matter) could be given their own planet, that poor beautiful child might have a chance. We are the most flawed species on this otherwise gorgeous planet, and we have multiplied like vermin and swarmed all over it, acting like we have an innate right to be in charge. What a mess!

  3. "What a mess!" indeed, Annamaria. I wish I (or SOMEONE) knew of a solution to the problem that Leighton so elegantly and efficiently paints, but I'm afraid there isn't a solution. The pain-pleasure mechanisms in our brain are at the root of almost all of the ills we encounter, it's who we ARE as biological entities (this is something I've been thinking about for some time now, and plan to write a column about this subject... it always feels good to spout, even knowing that it does little good.)

  4. Legalize, legalize, legalize it.

    All we got out of Prohibition was a wealthy super-powerful Mafia, increased violence and even more government corruption than we had before.

    All we're getting out of our latest recreational intoxicant ban is Prohibition on, well, cocaine: insanely wealthy mega-super-powerful global mobs, volcanic levels of violence, and political corruption on a state-crippling scale.

    Pseudo-morality is killing more of us than drugs do. Always has, always will, even if drugs are someday legalized.

    As the old Midwestern saying goes, we have not got the sense God gave cabbage.

  5. Right, you are Lenny. I have supported that notion FOREVER. I say we legalize it, heavily tax the distributors and use the money to help that poor kid and people like him have a decent life. BUT, I despair that the world will get saner. Entropy increases. It's not dark yet, but it's gettin' there.

  6. This is disturbing, and ultimately heartbreaking. Have we (as a group) become so selfish that our hearts no longer care about the less fortunate?
    Sometimes, I despair.