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. However, rather than help them gain self-sufficiency, it becomes a means by which the United States government has exerted economic and political control. This is a long-term situation. By the 1960s, a period of great experimentation with drugs, the war on drugs shifted from federal to state and local bodies. However, when the Knapp Commission of 1968 convened and police corruption made headlines across the nation, the police took a hands-off policy and looked to the cartel lords. This policy allowed drug distribution organizations to build empires in neighborhoods no longer the focus of police. In Puerto Rico, the war on drugs followed in U.S. footsteps due to its continuing colonial status.
Barrios and Curtis (1998) make it very clear that only with legalization of all personality-enhancing drugs, along with alcohol and cigarettes, can a solution to the drug problem be found. By focusing on Puerto Rican immigrants in the United States, specifically in New York City, as well as those on the island of Puerto Rico, and continuing with a case study of a specific family, showing the way in which desperate needs bring about desperate means, these two authors show how the present system of laws against drugs accelerate rather than resolve the problem. In describing the Santuree family, the authors offered a microcosm of the drug problem within the experiences of one dysfunctional family, which shows clearly how the problems were escalated by poverty, unemployment, lack of medical care, lack of suitable housing, and ultimately following the apparent economic promise of drug dealing and the resulting