Pubdate: Mon, 25 Aug 2014
Source: Tribune Review (Pittsburgh, PA)
Copyright: 2014 Tribune-Review Publishing Co.
Author: Ralph R. Reiland
Note: Ralph R. Reiland is an associate professor of economics at Robert
Morris University and a local restaurateur


Four-star Marine Corps Gen. John Francis Kelly is commander of the
U.S. Southern Command, which is responsible for security planning and
military operations in Central and South America and the Panama Canal.

Regarding the growing number of unaccompanied minors piling up at the
southern U.S. border, escaping the escalating violence in their
hometowns in Central America, Kelly in an essay last month in the
Military Times said he spent more than a year "observing the
transnational organized crime networks" in Central America.

In "Central America Drug War a Dire Threat to U.S. National Security,"
Kelly wrote, "Drug cartels and associated street gang activity in
Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, which respectively have the
world's number one, four and five highest homicide rates, have left
near-broken societies in their wake."

In her July 21 column in The Wall Street Journal, "What Really Drove
the Children North," Mary Anastasia O'Grady reported that the illicit
drug trade and its associated violence have left the aforementioned
regions of Central America more precarious than a war zone. "With a
homicide rate of 90 per 100,000 in Honduras, and 40 per 100,000 in
Guatemala," reported O'Grady, "life in the region is decidedly rougher
than the 'declared combat zones' like Afghanistan and the Democratic
Republic of the Congo, where the General (Kelly) says the rate is 28
per 100,000."

Central America thugs obtain their power to create chaos and death
"due to the insatiable U.S. demand for drugs, particularly cocaine,
heroin and now methamphetamines, all produced in Latin America and
smuggled into the U.S.," explained Kelly. The "insatiable demand" in
America creates the "vast resources of kingpins" in Latin America --
resources that are used to produce a breakdown of national
institutions, Kelly warned. He estimated that "perhaps 80 percent" of
the violence in Central America that's driving the migration of
children is due to the clout and resources of drug kingpins, which
steadily are supplied by way of the demand for drugs in the United

The result is "near-broken societies" at both ends of the drug trade
- -- along the supply routes that run through the disintegrating and
lawless towns of Central America and, on the demand side, along the
roads of societal disintegration in the "near-broken" neighborhoods of
America, disproportionately drug-soaked and violent.

And so, while kids from Central America are ending up at the U.S.
border, the buyers of illicit drugs in the United States and their
families are all too frequently ending up at the doors of America's
emergency rooms, prisons and funeral parlors.

Drug overdose deaths in Allegheny County are approaching 300 a year.
And the morning news about the previous night's murders, the senseless
killings linked to drugs in the predictable parts of the city, offers
few surprises.

As O'Grady concluded in The Journal: "The crisis was born of American 
self-indulgence. Solving it starts with taking responsibility for the 
demand for drugs that fuels criminality."

Ralph R. Reiland is an associate professor of economics at Robert
Morris University and a local restaurateur  
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