Overview of drug laws and legislative trends in Central America
The Central American region connecting North and South America has traditionally been an area with intensive trafficking routes, of drugs, weapons and people. Several of the seven countries that make up the region have been involved in civil wars during the 1980s that has left it with a legacy of political violence, migration and a large illegal arms market. Drugs trafficking routes over land and sea have existed for decades, transporting mainly cocaine from the Andean region to the United States and Mexico.
The past decade a resurge of violence occurred in the region, affecting three countries in particular: Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. This part of the region - often referred to as The Northern Triangle - has the highest murder rates in the world, increasing during the past few years. Much of the violence is related to conflicts between drug trafficking organizations that occupy territories around the region, competing for routes and networks. In Panama, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Belize this high level of violence is absent, but these countries are as much affected by drug traffic as the Northern Triangle. Recently some political leaders from the region have spoken in favor on the need for alternative policies, including regulation of the drugs market.
The role of the drugs trade in criminal violence and policy responses in Guatemala, El Salvador and HondurasLiza Ten VeldeTNI Drugs & Conflict Debate Paper 19
Mexico has occupied the limelight when it comes to media attention focusing on drug-related violence in Latin America. However, it is actually Central America's Northern Triangle – consisting of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador – currently experiencing much higher rates of violence and increasing Drug Trafficking Organization (DTOs) activity, thus providing an illustration of the 'balloon effect' previously experienced by Mexico itself after the implementation of Plan Colombia which was conceived at the end of the 90's. Together the countries of the Northern Triangle now form one of the most violent regions on earth.
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