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Drugs, violence in Mexico, Central America fueled by demand in US

People watched and took pictures as President Obama’s convoy traveled through the streets of San Jose, Costa Rica, this month during a three-day trip to the region.

Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images

People watched and took pictures as President Obama’s convoy traveled through the streets of San Jose, Costa Rica, this month during a three-day trip to the region.

On his recent visit to Central America, President Obama stated that one of the main reasons that Central American countries have been greatly affected by drug trafficking is the high prevalence of poverty and lack of opportunities among their citizens (“Obama urges Mexico to take ‘its rightful place in the world,’ ” May 4). While these are certainly difficult challenges facing these countries, they are not the main factors behind the formation of powerful networks of organized crime entrenched in these societies.

We are kidding ourselves if we downplay the fact that the main cause for the existence of these criminal structures is the insatiable demand for drugs in our country.

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Central American countries and Mexico are paying a steep price in lost lives and corruption by the unfortunate fact of their geographical location. At the expense of billions of dollars, most of the current strategies aimed at fighting drug-related crime, supported by the United States and adopted by Mexico and Central America, will be largely ineffective unless this country tackles the main origin of the problem: the high demand for drugs in our society.

Roberto A. Cruz-Gervis

Brookline

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