arms smuggling, iron river, Latin America, mass migration, narcotics, North America, transnational crime, violence
This post continues my practice of trying to make accessible and somewhat permanent useful observation composed in passing elsewhere online or in correspondence. In short Twitterese, I’ve diagrammed the argument as, approximately (NA=North America; LA=Latin America), “NA cash->LA narcotics->NA; NA arms->LA cartel & gang violence->migrants->NA.” Close enough. “NA”=”North America”, of course, and “LA”=”Latin America”.
Here follows an online comment already made plus short associated and supporting reference.
Our narcotics habits and black market enthusiasms fuel the cartels and gangs of Latin America, and those are not known for healthy governing practices. The abused, impoverished, terrified, and threatened migrate to El Norte where they believe there will be at least better security, order, and rule-of-law.
We Americans (and Canadians) are not only a powerful market for everything that may be obtained only through smuggling, we’ve had a business going in running arms into Latin America (along with all the outlaws of the world). Term for exploration on the web: “America, arms, iron river”. I have collected articles on the subject dating back to 2007.
The sad truth about my Fellow Americans is that we’re greedy as sin, –or desperate and both–and we pay a high price for it x addictions x homelessness x social failures x social pathologies. Neither our Far Out Left nor Rabid Reactionary Right seems to have a clue as regards the full ecology of corruption, crime, narcotics, trafficked labor (2nd largest abuse of all), and above all our most prized possession: money–would that our ethics, principles, values, and general American spirit modify the national appetite for good times and loot.
Abbany, Zulfikar. “Report: EU spends 31 billion on illicit drugs.” DW, April 5, 2016.
Cheatham, Amelia and Diana Roy. “Central America’s Turbulent Northern Triangle.” Council on Foreign Relations, last updated June 22, 2022.
Gaynor, Tim. “‘Iron river of guns’ flows from U.S. to Mexico.” Reuters, July 13, 2007.
Grillo, Loan. “Slow the Iron River of Guns to Mexico.” The New York Times, February 26, 2021.
Kilmer, Beau. “Americans’ Spending on Illicit Drugs Nears $150 Billion Annually; Appears to Rival What is Spent on Alcohol.” RAND, August 20, 2019.
Krauze, Leon. “Biden must stop the ‘iron river’ of U.S. weapons devastating Mexico.” The Washington Post, March 10, 2021.
Llana, Sara Miller. “US guns fuel Mexico drug war? The politics behind the issue.” The Christian Science Monitor, June 15, 2011.
Mallene, Laura. “Europeans Spend $30 Billion A Year On Drugs.” Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, November 28, 2019.
Martinez, Gabriela. “The flow of guns from the U.S. to Mexico is getting lost in the border debate.” PBS New Hour, June 12, 2019, updated July 2, 2019.
Mathema, Silva. “They Are (Still) Refugees: People Continue to Flee Violence in Latin American Countries.” Center for American Progress, June 1, 2018.
Morris, Nathaniel and Gema Kloppe-Santamaria. “The Many, Varied Violences Behind the Central American Exodus.” IPI Global Observatory, November 15, 2022.
Oppenheim, James S. “An American Report Card.” BackChannels, October 4, 2019.
Pendergast, Curt. “Arizona guns quietly smuggled across border as bullets fly in Mexico.” Tuscon Arizona Daily Star, November 25, 2019, updated June 26, 2020.
Rubio, Yury. “Twenty-first Century Slavery: How to Stop Human Trafficking at the U.S.-Mexico Border.” The International Affairs Review, December 15, 2022.
Seelke, Clare Ribando. “Trafficking in Persons in Latin America and the Caribbean.” PDF. Congressional Research Service, October 13, 2016.
VICE News. “How the US Fuels Mexican Cartel Violence.” Video. YouTube, August 22, 2021.