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Drugs and Democracy in Latin America: The Impact of U.S. Policy

Coletta A. Youngers and Eileen Rosin, editors
Drugs and Democracy in Latin America: The Impact of U.S. Policy
ISBN: 978-1-58826-278-3
ISBN: 978-1-58826-254-7
2005/415 pages/LC: 2004014978
Published in association with the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA)

"A comprehensive and forceful analysis of the US-backed drug war in Latin America. Scholars and policymakers should read this volume not for balance, but instead for a passionate perspective on an enormously important foreign policy issue."—Russell Crandall, Latin American Politics and Society

"An excellent book. One may not stop hoping that it will find its way to Congress and help the relevant lawmakers to come to their senses."—Menno Vellinga, European Review of Latin American and Caribbean Studies

"This collection of program assessments and case studies is probing, informative, and deeply disturbing."—Richard Feinberg, Foreign Affairs

"Most politicians and reporters are silent about the collateral damage US drug policy is causing to the very democracy and human rights we claim to support. This well-informed book is the best country-by-country analysis of the impact of U.S. drug policy on the politics and lives of our southern neighbors."—Professor Kenneth E. Sharpe, Swarthmore College, co-author of Drug War Politics

"This sober, comprehensive, and well-documented study is a wake-up call for everyone who cares about the welfare of Latin America and about the way the United States throws its weight around in the world."—Aryeh Neier, President, Open Society Institute

"Reports on the US international war on drugs usually reflect either the sterile rigor of the Government Accounting Office or the shrill cries of left-wing outrage. This book manages a rigorous and interesting analysis of how US programs work, together with a principled statement of why this should be of concern to the American public."—Peter Reuter, Professor of Public Policy, University of Maryland


Although the US has spent more than $25 billion on international drug-control programs over the last two decades, it has failed to reduce the supply of cocaine and heroin entering the country. It has, however, succeeded in generating widespread, often profoundly damaging, consequences, most notably in Latin America and the Caribbean. The authors of Drugs and Democracy in Latin America offer a comprehensive review of US drug-control policies toward the region, assess the impact of those policies on democracy and human rights, and present detailed country and regional case studies.

A project of the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA), this major work is the first systematic, region-wide documentation and analysis of the collateral damage caused by the US war on drugs.


Coletta A. Youngers and Eileen Rosin codirected the Drugs, Democracy, and Human Rights (DDHR) project at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA).


  • The US "War on Drugs": Its Impact on Latin America and the Caribbean—the Editors.
  • The US Military in the War on Drugs—A. Isacson.
  • US Police Assistance and Drug Control Policies—R. Neild.
  • Colombia: A Vicious Circle of Drugs and War—M.C. Ramírez, K. Stanton, and J. Walsh.
  • Bolivia: Clear Consequences—K. Ledebur.
  • Peru: Drug Control Policy, Human Rights, and Democracy—I. Rojas.
  • Ecuador: Untangling the Drug War—F. Rivera Vélez.
  • Mexico: The Militarization Trap—L. Freeman and J. L. Sierra.
  • The Caribbean: The "Third Border" and the War on Drugs—J. Rodríguez Beruff and G. Cordero.
  • The Collateral Damage of the U.S. War on Drugs: Conclusions and Recommendations—C.A. Youngers.
  • Appendix 1: An Overview of US Laws and Agencies Related to International Drug Control Efforts.
  • Appendix 2: Funding and Staffing for DEA Programs in Latin America 1998-2004.