It’s interesting to hear the Opposition Leader insist that we must determine who the perpetrators of crime are in this country, when he and many of our politicians may be unwittingly knocking glasses with these very perpetrators at cocktail parties. These are the mafia who are responsible for the murders in the ghettos, for the murders of young black men; these are the mafia whose trade in drugs is killing our country and these are the mafia that the police will never catch or arrest. If we must separate the criminals from the law-abiding, as the Opposition Leader insists, we need to start at the tip top of the rotten totem pole.
Reckless politics prevail on both sides. Minister of National Security Gary Griffith as much as endorsed the army’s right to seek revenge for the slaying of Lance Corporal Kayode Thomas when he warned “touch one, touch all.” And the Opposition Leader, in a rare visit to Laventille, climbs the hill to demand justice for the executed three, but forgets that police have not solved the murder of the dead soldier.
Both ignore that the bloody madness and terror will not end because the war on drugs is a war that cannot be won. Clamp down on Colombian cartels and Mexican soil runs red from thousands of drug linked murders. Clamp down on Central America and the cocaine dealers return to running drugs up the Caribbean route. Paths will always be cleared for them by corrupt law enforcement and other greedy officials and the drug lords’ budgets are considerably larger than a country’s national security allotment. A yacht may be seized off Ireland, but countless vessels dock on the shores of Europe to satisfy supply. Is there less cocaine on US streets after three plus decades of war?
Meanwhile the arms producers of Western countries are making a mint from weapons for the war sold legally to governments and weapons for the drug traffickers and gangs sold illegally. The criminals are in possession of the same arms and ammunition as the army and police. And while we aim in TT to dampen money laundering, by imposing oppressive banking rules, in the US you can walk into a bank with one form of ID and presto you have an account. Who is really engaging in the money laundering?
It is Western countries—the main consumers of illegal drugs — who are benefitting from the war on drugs. If all drugs were legal, there’d be no sale of weapons in this hemisphere, and drugs would have to be imported according to market prices. We have made drug trafficking a moral issue when it is not—it is an economic one. Decriminalise and the criminal empires collapse.
Let’s calculate how many lives have been snuffed out in the Americas since the war on drugs commenced. No near number would have died from a drug overdose in that space of time. And instead of wasting resources and police hours on drug interdiction and fighting the murderous business of drug trafficking, money could be spent on education and rehabilitation.
Caricom must first begin with marijuana. A couple of weeks ago an adolescent was killed by a stray bullet after a policeman sought to arrest a man smoking a joint and the man made a grab for his gun. Scuffling over a spliff ends a young life. How preposterous!
And what irony, what hypocrisy. While the Westerners were weed eating us, they were becoming experts in marijuana and now lead the world in its decriminalisation and are home to the largest medical marijuana companies. Canadian firms want to import Jamaican weed, so Jamaica will become a supplier, but the end product, which will be at least twice as expensive will be sold by the Canadians, no doubt Caribbean countries importing legal marijuana remedies.
But we are too small to call the shots so we will have to endure the shots and it will be virtually impossible for our police to solve the slew of murders, particularly when the coasts are clear, as they are now after the cancellation of the Offshore Patrol Vessels. And even if we had these boats afloat we would only make a tiny dent in the drug trade because the criminals are on par with or ahead of the game. Governments buy ships; the traffickers use submarines. The war on drugs is a lose-lose game.