The problems in Central America are mostly due to the USA – no way around it

After 40 years of a battle that the USA Government is losing, you would think a policy change would be in order – but not the USA – it is the same old, same old in many things.

One in particular is the “War on Drugs”. It is a war that the USA has lost, at the expense of many Latin American countries.

No need to look further than Mexico – the government is corrupt, the police and the military are corrupt – due to the drugs that are flowing through the country headed for the over indulging American drug users.

Lots of money in those drugs headed for the USA, and it causes all sorts of headaches for the countries that they’re being shipped through.

They do not have the police force or military presence to stop the flow. The smugglers have more funds and are much quicker to improvise their methods than what the governments can do.

This is true no matter how much money the USA government sends to the Central American governments to help out.

I have seen one drug addict in my travels – an expat who was in Cahuita – the locals told me she gets kicked out of the country every 6 months or so, and then reappears in another 6 months for a year os so.

One of the things you do not see in Central America is the local addicts – they do not have the money to buy the drugs.

They really are just to busy trying to eke out a living in the areas the smugglers ship through.


Drugs up through Columbia are mainly shipped along the Atlantic Ocean

Along the Atlantic Ocean side of Central America, it is the least populated area in most of all the countries.

Below Mexico, in Guatemala – you have the Peten area – which is where the rebels were based during the civil war that had Guatemala in turmoil for decades. This area is still one of the least populated areas in Guatemala.

It is also where the cartels are waging a turf war – the latest casualties being the beheading of 28 farm workers who worked for one of the alleged cartel leaders as a retaliation for the death of one of the opposing cartel members.

Belize is conducive to this too – along the southern part of the country, very limited population and police/military presence. This is true all the way to the border with Guatemala. So, guess where the smugglers hike their drugs into Mexico – through the southern area of Belize, into the Peten area of Guatemala and then into Mexico.


Coming up from the south - Belize and Guatemala are used to funnel drugs into Mexico.

When you get to Honduras – it is like the wild west in some areas.

The southeastern part of the country has the largest rain forest north of the Amazon, About 15% of the area has been researched by scientists – 85% of the area has not been documented or researched for plants or animals. Do you get the feeling that this area is tough to get into?

From Trujillo, the oldest city in Central America – there appears to be two roads that head to the capital – Teglucigalpa.

Here is what I was told about taking either one of those two roads.

The southern most road – if I see a baseball cap in the road, it is likely the guy is standing on the back of his pickup truck and is stuck in one of the deep holes along the road.

The next road north is known as AK-47 alley. This is where stickups and car jacking occurs. It is literally “whoever has the biggest gun makes the rules.” Southeastern part of Honduras is a very dangerous place.

A fellow traveler wanted to go into the Bosawas rainforest in southeastern Honduras. The owner of the hotel asked for his ID – drivers license, passport and a contact name in the states. If he made a mistake and got a bad guide, it was likely that he would never be heard from again.

This rain forest goes over the border into Nicaragua – and is as difficult to reach from there as it is in Honduras.

The area in Nicaragua – that holds 25% of the population of Nicaragua. That is from Matagalpa to Rivas in the southern part of Nicaragua. It is the smugglers channel of navigation through Nicaragua to Honduras.



Honduras and Nicaragua - eastern coast

Costa Rica and Panama, the most modern of countries in Central America, still have the same problems.

Along the eastern coast is where the fewest people live, miles of beaches and jungles to land a boat on with drugs to be smuggled further to the north.

Along the eastern part of Costa Rica are vast, protected jungle areas that are on the Caribbean/Atlantic Oceans. Very little the police/military can do to stop the shipment of drugs being brought in by boat – just not enough personnel to tackle the task.

Panama is the same way along their eastern shores. The islands are controlled by the locals, with few government boats patrolling the area – it is an agreement with the indigenous people that live on the islands.

Then there is the jungle/swamp/river area that borders Columbia – miles and miles of wilderness, sparsely inhabited by indigenous people who make very little money. Think they would not take a chance and help out smugglers to make a few bucks? Think again – they would in the heart beat of a humming-bird.


Mostly jungle along the eastern portion of both Costa Rica and Panama

Please do not get me wrong here – if you are not involved in the drugs when living in the countries listed, you will probably notice very little in the day-to-day life in any of the areas. If is when you are dealing in drugs, or have something that the drug smugglers want that causes problems.

As you can tell by the vast areas that need to be patrolled, the governments have no chance of stemming the flow of drugs. They might get a haul now and then, but assume 50 x that amount is making it through undetected.

Then you have the corruption of the police/army/politicians that occurs because of the monies that the drug dealers have available.

For example – one of the problems in Panama was with illegal workers. They would get caught by the police, but the policeman’s salary was so low that they could bribe their way out of the situation.

That changed a bit when the new president was elected and gave the policemen a 25% raise – but figure it has not stopped it totally.

Just think about the monies that the drug dealers have to bribe with – hard to resist when you are making less than $9,000 per year and see the gringos and government officials driving around in nice cars and living in the best homes. One good bribe can change a lot in a Latin American’s life.

So, the policy on drugs in the USA is still causing many problems here in Latin America. It needs to change.

Just like the repeal of prohibition, once the USA realized that the law created more problems vs solving the alcohol related problems when it was legal, the USA has to realize that the “War on Drugs” creates more problems than it solves.

Our jails are full of non-violent criminals, who’s only reason for being in jail was selling a product that many Americans want.

When does the ideology change?

Do the streets of America have to get more violent? More drive-by shootings between drug gangs?

Do the mass murders related to drugs, in Mexico and even certain areas of the USA, have to increase in order to bring some common sense to the way heroin, marijuana and cocaine are dealt with?

If the drugs (heroin, marijuana and cocaine) were legal, the USA could regulate and tax all the usage of these drugs and get some sort of control over, and bring sanity to, the issue.

At present, it is a gang war that goes from Columbia all the way to the northern cities of the USA.

After 40 years of the “War on Drugs”, usage has increased, more resources from all countries involved are being spent on prevention to no avail.

With the logistics of the remote areas of smuggling, the Latin American countries have no hope of stemming the flow from South America, through their countries on the way to the USA.

Just like with the repeal of the Prohibition Act and the legalization of selling booze once again, the same needs to be done with heroin, cocaine and marijuana.

The “War on Drugs” needs to end with the legalization of their use, and control and taxation by states and the federal government of the USA.

It is the only sane way to stop the insanity of the drug problems in the USA and Latin America.

Cheers for now.

About John Wilson

Traveler, writer and photographer. No home now, just traveling the world in search of the lost chord.
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16 Responses to The problems in Central America are mostly due to the USA – no way around it

  1. Pingback: Poster's Paradise » Another one of the many things the government screws up

  2. When I was a senior in high school many years ago I wrote a 10-page research paper for my English class about why we should legalize drugs. The government apparently didn’t get to read it.

  3. John Wilson says:

    Hi Stephanie,
    Yup, the government seems to have a completely different mind set when it comes to solving problems.
    Why use common sense when spending ungodly amounts of money on a no win situation is available?
    Thanks for taking the time from your busy schedule to read and post a comment – I do appreciate it.
    John D. Wilson

  4. unfortunately i dont think the drug problem is the only one. time and time again these countries have been used by the western world. bananas, coffee, timber…. it also riles me that reagan is lauded as a great president after his involvement in the iran-contra affair. lets hope that one day we can stop using and start working with.

  5. John Wilson says:

    Agreed Jamie,
    Not the only problem.
    It is the one where the most resources are wasted trying to stop the unending flow of drugs.
    When those resources are used for building vs. watching for smugglers, then there can be some progress.
    It is like the USA’s “War on Terrorism” – the “War on Drugs” is used as an excuse to control the people of Central America and waste manpower.
    Maybe one day.
    John D. Wilson

  6. Mack Reynolds says:

    wow, to be honest, i didn’t think you were going to be heading to that conclusion. i agree, to [semi] control the drugs, they need to be legalized, taxed, and regulated.

  7. Sailor says:

    Well researched article! I think it is as simple as that, if you tell people do not use it and make it illegal people are going to use it. It is more than addiction. I always think that it starts as a statement and later being addicted. Make it legal and tax it. It is much better than spending millions on fighting it.

  8. John Wilson says:

    Hi Mack,
    Thanks for the comment.
    If you look at the coast line of Central America, you will realize that the smugglers cannot be stopped.
    It is the only way to stop the violence and smuggling – legalize and control the drugs.
    John D. Wilson

  9. John Wilson says:

    Hi Sailor,
    Thanks for the comment.
    Impossible to stop the flow of drugs – just like it was impossible to stop the flow of liquor during prohibition.
    Legalize and control – only sane way to gain some control over the problem.
    John D. Wilson

  10. John Wilson says:

    Pretty amazing terrain to cover to stop the smuggling, eh?
    It will never happen in a million years – or more billions of dollars.
    John D. Wilson

  11. Andrea says:

    Very interesting information – I’m all for drug legalization. So many stupid policies in the US – I wish they would spend their time on something more useful. It will all come to a head…

  12. John Wilson says:

    Thanks for leaving a comment Andrea.
    Most people in the USA do not realize the impossible task of trying to stop the smuggling.
    Football field length tunnels, submarines and high speed boats.
    Then the corruption of the military, police and politicians.
    It is really worse than the prohibition days.
    Many things are close to coming to a head – the drug problem being just one.
    John D. Wilson

  13. Silverboom says:

    Okay, this is really good info and helpful to understand how it all ties together. Thanks for the analysis – well done!

  14. Gar says:

    Most people in the United States think Central America is Kansas and Missouri. In addition to the ignorance of the general population, we have a government that doesn’t care about logical arguments. It’s not about logic, it is about control.

    And now, not only do we have government using the excuse of social wars to control the population, we have a whole industry, private prisons, with a vested interest in keeping a steady flow of drug “criminals” into their human warehouses.

    Just lately, the Justice Department has teamed with the DEA and the IRS to shutdown the medical marijuana dispensaries in the states that have made them legal. This despite Obama’s campaign promise that this would not happen.

    So, I dunno. I used to think I would see marijuana legalized in my lifetime but my hair (what there is left of it) is already white. So I just dunno…

  15. John Wilson says:

    Hey Gar,
    Nope, I do not think you and I will see any change in the governments policy towards drugs.
    They’ve lost the war, but do not realize it. Same old inane thinking from the political leaders in Washington.
    Just like tossing more money at the economy instead of correcting problems.
    The government think it can control morals and behavior through laws and fines. Didn’t work during prohibition, and it won’t work trying to solve the problem of drugs.
    We have got what we deserved in our elected officials, I guess. A bunch of apathetic power mongers without a single unique idea amongst them to solve any problem.
    John D. Wilson

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