The Impact of the War on Drugs on Puerto Ricans

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According to Barrios and Curtis, the United States, by focusing too much attention on drugs, is overlooking the crises that Puerto Ricans face in health and welfare.


The majority of Puerto Rican immigrants live in New York City, a circumstance that can be traced to post-World War II economic development programs, which ensured Puerto Rico's economic and political dependence on the U.S. It has and continues to have a colonial status with the United States. Crime in the Latino community, and specifically in Puerto Rico, has created a legacy of poverty, unemployment, and lack of education for the population, accelerated by drug prohibition. In 1994, the murder rate in Puerto Rico was the highest in the western hemisphere, with 73 percent classified by the police as "drug related."

The article states the tendency among Latinos to follow overall trends throughout the U.S. with alcohol and cigarettes consumed far more than all illegal drugs combined. Nevertheless, the treatment of Latinos is unequal with a greater number of arrests in Latino neighborhoods. The high number of young people incarcerated has a negative effect on the lives of families and neighborhoods. In addition, the war on drugs focuses on Latino gangs in New York City and Puerto Rico, with the Kings and Queens and the Netas of particular interest to law enforcement. The article further states that the war on drugs has acted as a catalyst to the AIDS epidemic. AIDS is the leading cause of death among young adult Latinos in the United States and more than half are injection-related. In addition, people who live both on the island of Puerto Rico and in the United States have a much higher incidence of injection-related AIDS than do other Latino groups living in the United States.The relationship of the United States to Latin America and the Caribbean has been characterized as neocolonialism and is often considered a humanitarian gesture. ...
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