I don't know how many times I've read it before, but it's always tacked on to any news article about the most recent massacre or crime in general in Puerto Rico. As the news of the latest tragedy hit the Associated Press, there it was again:
An estimated 30 percent of drugs reaching the U.S. come through the Caribbean, with Puerto Rico a popular transshipment point because drugs do not have to clear customs to reach the mainland.However, when I read it this time, a light bulb flickered on inside my head. If the purported root cause of the violence, crime, and mayhem in Puerto Rico was directly linked to Puerto Rico's popularity as a transhipment point for drugs, then why don't we change Puerto Rico's classification? Why don't the travel and shipping authorities change Puerto Rico to become an International destination and origin?
That way, all of the travelers going between Puerto Rico and the United States would be forced to comply with the rules and procedures of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. In addition, all cargo shipments from Puerto Rico to the United States would also face the same scrutiny as those from Mexico, Columbia, or Turkey.
Pros and Cons
Of course, this means placing a significant burden upon the millions of travelers that leave our ports and airports. For any business travelers, this would be a steep price to pay. However, I think it may be the only chance we have, besides decriminalizing cocaine and marijuana in Puerto Rico, to increase the safety of our citizens. Although, after looking at the data, I bet that if Puerto Rico would decriminalize drugs, we STILL wouldn't see any significant reduction in the crime rate.
In the past, I think that it has been easy to miss the larger point that dawned on me when I read about the massacre in Toa Baja. While we have the perfect storm conditions for a large drug trafficking trade in to Puerto Rico (high welfare, large cash economy, corruption, and high supply of drugs), it pales in comparison to the profit generated from controlling the major drug trafficking which flows through Puerto Rico.
In my opinion, the high number of murders and violence in Puerto Rico are not caused by the mere trafficking of drugs into the island, but the trafficking of drugs through the island.
Then you also have to consider, if Puerto Rico is a popular place to smuggle drugs into the United States, then what else is being smuggled into the US? Maybe guns, maybe even weapons of mass destruction. Of course, that is unthinkable, but it is difficult to deny the logic.
Sometimes the simplest solution to a problem is right in front of our noses. Sometimes it just takes being hit over the head with that solution one more time before the gears and tumblers fall into place to reveal the answer to our problems. I'm sure that's what happened here. I'm so confident about this, I can feel it in my bones.
Just to check my conclusion, I've compiled a spreadsheet comparing population to homicide rate. Per person, Puerto Rico exceeds all other states in homicides. For the data I was able to quickly compile, in 2005, Puerto Rico had twice as many murders per person than the highest of any other state, in this case Louisiana.
Puerto Rico is probably just like any other densely populated state. The number of drug users has to be relatively the same. So why the huge spike in murders? There can be only one answer. While there may be millions available to people willing to sell drugs within Puerto Rico, there HAS TO BE hundreds of millions available to whoever controls the shipment of drugs TO the US.
I'm so convinced that I'm right, I'm going to initiate a campaign to communicate with all of the authorities that might be able to take action on this information. My challenge is to figure out who to contact, and how to get this information into their hands. Wish me luck, the future of crime reduction on the island may depend on my success. Hmm, who knew, MC Don Dees would become a crime fighter?
Flickr Creative Commons Contributor: oddsock