Bartilow A. Horace. “DRUG WARS COLLATERAL DAMAGE: US Counternarcotic Aid and Human Rights in the Americas.” Latin American Research Review, Vol. 49, No. 2 (2014): 24-46. Published by: The Latin American Studies Association Stable URL: Accessed: 22-01-2019

Derived from:

This image is from a different article that identifies the United States government as the real drug lords of the world. It shows a person sniffing cocaine on top the the United States Seal. Although the initial article I am reporting on does not mention the specific drug that the US and Latin America is involved with, other sources specifically name cocaine as the drug that is linked to human rights violations. The mysterious figure using the drug is a symbol of the relationship of narcotic cartels and US involvement in funding drug wars in Latin America.

In this article, Horace Bartilow examines the already established narrative that there has been an increase in human rights violations in Latin America due to the historical and current drug war that is funded by the United States government through cointer-nacotic aid. Bartilow attempts to test the collateral damage perspective that draws on the narrative that counter-narcotics aid from the US circulates into Latin America’s governments that contribute to tortue, political imprisonment, disappearances, and extreme killings. He approaches this topic by moving from the perspective as a narrative, to a theory that can be tested. Moreover, Bartilow argues that the more counternarcotic aid given to Latin American governments, more human rights violations occur. Moreover, Bartilow argues that this is most likely to occur under a democratic regime compared to autocratic. He proposes that in the face if narcotic threats, democracies respond with a lower level of repression and therefore see more murders occurring. In addition, Bartilow explains how democracies can easily undermine its own government and make decisions utilizing the military without being held accountable.

Bartilow wrote this article while studying at the University of Kentucky. The style of the article is scientifically written because he attempts to examine this situation as a theory with a proposed hypothesis and scientific evidence to support it, as opposed to simply a story. He supports the collateral damage theory using academic literature, hypothesis and supporting evidence. Not only this, he incorporates research that shows how the US has imposed drug enforcement policies that perpetuate the drug wars in Latin America and in turn, created increasing numbers of human rights violations. The intended audience of the article is for those already familiar with the drug war, US-Latin American relations, and the collateral damage narrative because Bartilow does not give background information, nor does he define these terms. The strengths of the article is in the layout of the article and the way he chooses to present the evidence. The methodology used takes real experiences and relations between the US and Latin America and categorizes them as instrumental variables, dependent variables and central explanatory variables to make the case of cause and effect clear. Next, with the understanding of the threat of perception and repression, the author creates a chart explaining the correlation between regime type and levels of repression met with the presence of Narco-Terrorist Organizations. Lastly, he creates numerical evidence identifying counter-narcotic aid received to the violent effects on the population. On the other hand, the argument that Bartiolow makes does have limitations. For one, the argument can be made that counternarcotic aid is the consequence of human rights violations in the first place, rather than the cause of human right violations. In support of this opposition, there is a contradiction in the collateral damage narrative where democracies have shown to be more tolerable to human rights violations.

Lastly, this article is a source if potential importance in the relevance of historical and current US-Latin America relations. In the realm of human rights laws in The Americas and the context of this course, human rights are a universal topic. In regards to the question, why are human rights violated? This article proposes drugs are apart of a bigger political agenda that leads to violations of human rights (torture, political imprisonment, etc…). Also, it proposes that when drug wars begin to take a toll on a population then there is need for intervention, or in this case counter-narcotics aid. Nonetheless, this information is relevant because US counter-narcotics aid is also used make political changes in the criminal justice system, which includes another category of rights and the opportunity to violate them. The article gives the example of creating police drug task force teams that have the capacity to execute tactics that have the potential to violate privacy, personal property and other freedoms. Moreover, these changes can include new drug laws that over prosecute, are ambiguous and have harsh sentences. In addition, these changes in the criminal justice system even trickle down to placing limitations on the accres offenders have to legal defense. The US has historically indirectly and directly funded civil wars in Africa and other countries, so the question of US involvement in perpetuating the drug war in Latin America is a valid question. In closing, Bartilow suggest that the research be expanded to other countries other than Latin America.

Bartilow A. Horace. “DRUG WARS COLLATERAL DAMAGE: US Counternarcotic Aid and Human Rights in the Americas.” Latin American Research Review, Vol. 49, No. 2 (2014): 24-46. Published by: The Latin American Studies Association Stable URL: Accessed: 22-01-2019

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: