This NYT article, which describes how the US has adopted the Special Forces approaches used in Iraq and Afghanistan to fight the drug trade in Central America, rather bizarrely makes no mention of the larger context–growing opposition in Latin America to the War on Drugs as such. On the contrary, the NYT suggests there is consensus about drugs unlike the Cold War disagreements that existed when Oliver North built similar bases in Honduras to fight the Contras.
Narcotics cartels, transnational organized crime and gang violence are designated as threats by the United States and Central American governments, with a broader consensus than when that base was built — in an era when the region was viewed through a narrow prism of communism and anticommunism.
“The drug demand in the United States certainly exacerbates challenges placed upon our neighboring countries fighting against these organizations — and why it is so important that we partner with them in their countering efforts,” said Vice Adm. Joseph D. Kernan, the No. 2 officer at Southern Command, which is responsible for military activities in Central and South America.
Compare that formula–US demand creates the need for us to set up Forward Operating Bases out of which our Special Forces can operate–with that offered by Guatemala’s right wing President, Otto Pérez Molina, in his calls to legalize drugs. [This is my very rough translation.]
In part, we have seen an unequal struggle [against drugs] because America is not cooperating with Central America as it should on this problem.
[The fight against drugs] is a shared responsibility that has different levels and degrees that each country must take.
The US is the largest consumer and the final destination of all the drugs passing through Central America and therefore it has the greatest responsibility.