Crime, Law and Social Change

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 203–220 | Cite as

The will to win: Determinants of public support for the drug war in Belize

  • Bruce Wiegand
  • Richard Bennett
Article

Abstract

The premise of this paper is that the drug war cannot be won without the public's full commitment. Based on a random sample of households (n=532) in Belize City, public attitudes are analyzed to assess the degree of support for drug enforcement. The findings show strong support for drug education as well as for increasing criminal sanctions and the size of the police force. Support fades, however, as drug enforcement is militarized. The significant determinants of public support are education, gender, attitudes toward the police, fear of property crime, and neighborhood crime prevalence. The paper closes by offering two concrete ways to build public support for drug enforcement.

Keywords

Random Sample Strong Support International Relation Public Support Crime Prevalence 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes and references

  1. 1.
    United States General Accounting Office,Drug Control: Impact of DOD's Detection and Monitoring on Cocaine Flow. Washington, D.C.: GAO, 1991a, 4.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Andreas, P.K., Betram, E.C., Blackman, M.J. and Sharpe, K.E., “Dead-End Drug Wars,”Foreign Policy. 1991–2 (85), 107–108.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    United States General Accounting Office,The Drug War: Observations on Counter Narcotics Programs in Columbia and Peru. Washington, D.C., GAO, 1991b, 1.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Andreas et al. (1991–2), op. cit.“, 108.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    U.S. General Accounting Office (1991a), op. cit..Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Refer to U.S. General Accounting Office (1991a), op. cit.; and also to Andreas et al. (1991–2), op. cit., 106–110. The U.S. Government (U.S. General Accounting Office 1991a, 11–12) tells us that “supply reduction is comprised of domestic law enforcement, interdiction of shipments in transit, and international initiatives aimed at disrupting and dismantling operations in source countries. Demand reduction includes initiatives in drug education, testing, and treatment.”Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    United States Department of Justice,Drug Trafficking: A Report to the President of the United States. Washington, D.C.: Office of the Attorney General, 1989, 58.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Kohut, A. and Hugick, L., “Columbians Question Worth of Drug War, Americans Skeptical It Can Be Won,”The Gallup Report. 1989 (288, 2–11.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Andreas, P.K., Bertram, E.C., Blackman, M.J. and Sharpe, K.E. (1991–2), op. cit. “.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Ibid, 113–114.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Refer to United States General Accounting Office,The Drug War: U.S. Programs in Peru Face Serious Obstacles. Washington, D.C.: GAO, 1991c); and to Brooke, J., “Peru's Leader Proposes a Market to Fight Coca,”Washington Post. October 28, 1990, 9.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    U.S. General Accounting Office (1991a), op. cit., 10–11.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Rangle, C., “The Caribbean and Our Drug War,”Transafrica Forum. 1990 (7: 32), 39–43.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    United States Information Agency,International Narcotics Control Strategy. Incoming unclassified telegram. Washington, D.C., 1990, 1.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Refer to Miller P.V., “Which Side Are You On? The 1990 Nicaraguan Pooll Debacle,”Public Opinion Quarterly. (53), 281–302; and to Coleman, K.M. and L. Sigelman, “The 1985 USIA Central American Surveys,”Public Opinion Quarterly. (52), 552–556.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Refer to Kohut, A. and L. Hugick (1989), op. cit.“. Colsanto, D., “Widespread Public Opposition to Drug Legalization,”The Gallup Poll. 1990 (292), 2–3; and toThe Gallup Report. “Keys to Fighting Drugs Seen as Educating Youth, Halting Supply,” 1988 (270), 32–33.Google Scholar
  17. 18.
    Barry, T.,Belize. Albuquerque. New Mexico: The Inter-Hemispheric Education Resource Center, 1990, 22.Google Scholar
  18. 19.
    Kyle, D., “No Turning Back: U.S. Aid and Investment in Belize,”Belizean Studies. (18: 1), 36–52.Google Scholar
  19. 20.
    United States Office of the National Drug Control Policy,National Drug Control Policy. Washington, D.C.: Executive Office of the President, 1989, 64.Google Scholar
  20. 21.
    Barry, T., (1990), op. cit., 20, Appendix 1.Google Scholar
  21. 22.
    U.S. Information Agency (1990), op. cit.,International Narcotics Control Strategy. Incoming unclassified telegram. Washington, D.C., 1.Google Scholar
  22. 23.
    Ibid. U.S. Information Agency (1990), op. cit.,International Narcotics Control Strategy. Incoming unclassified telegram. Washington, D.C., 1.Google Scholar
  23. 24.
    Ibid. U.S. Information Agency (1990), op. cit.,International Narcotics Control Strategy. Incoming unclassified telegram. Washington, D.C., 1.Google Scholar
  24. 25.
    Ibid. However successful crop eradication has been in reducing the size of Belize's marijuana export market, there is another factor that must be taken into account. Recent estimates reveal that in 1989 there was in the neighborhood of 5,000 to 6,000 tons ofdomestic marijuana on the U.S. market. This is nearly a threefold increase from 1989 when the quantity was estimated to be 2,100 tons (National Narcotics Intelligence Consumers Committee,The Supply of Illicit Drugs to the United States. Washington, D.C.: Drug Enforcement Agency, 1989, 1990). The point is, a much larger proportion of the U.S. demand for marijuana is being satisfied by domestic growers. The crop eradication program in Belize thus coincides with this declining demand for imported marijuana.Google Scholar
  25. 26.
    Branigin, W., “Crack, L.A.-Style Gangs Trouble Torpid Belize,”Washington Post. September 16, 1989, A26.Google Scholar
  26. 27.
    Belize Today. June–July 1988, “Dealing with Deadlier Dope,” (Belmopan, Belize: Government Printery).Google Scholar
  27. 28.
    Wiegand, B., “Crime Scene In Belize City is Bad,”Amandala. Belize City 1990 (9: 2).Google Scholar
  28. 29.
    We use the word “success” guardedly. The United States General Accounting Office.Drug Interdiction: Funding Continues to Increase But Program Effectiveness is Unknown. Washington, D.C.: GAO, 1990, 1–3; reminds us that the Office of National Drug Control Policy lacks clear measures for determining the effectiveness of drug interdiction.Google Scholar
  29. 30.
    U.S. Information Agency (1990), op. cit.,International Narcotics Control Strategy. Incoming unclassified telegram. Washington, D.C., 1.Google Scholar
  30. 31.
    Ibid. U.S. Information Agency (1990), op. cit.,International Narcotics Control Strategy. Incoming unclassified telegram. Washington, D.C., 1.Google Scholar
  31. 32.
    Belize Today. op. cit. June–July 1988, “Dealing with Deadlier Dope,” (Belmopan, Belize: Government Printery). 4. United States aid to Belize is on a downward trend as the table below indicates. Keyle 1990, op. cit., 42. The military aid falls into three categories. The International Narcotics Matters (INM), International Military Education and Training Program (IMET), and Military Assistance Program (MAP). Their combined total in 1990 was $1.1 million (United States Information Agency 1990, op. cit., 01).Google Scholar
  32. 33.
    U.S. Information Agency (1990), op. cit.,International Narcotics Control Strategy. Incoming unclassified telegram. Washington, D.C., 1.Google Scholar
  33. 34.
    Ibid. U.S. Information Agency (1990), op. cit.,International Narcotics Control Strategy. Incoming unclassified telegram. Washington, D.C., 1.Google Scholar
  34. 38.
    “Guatemala Peace Talks Stall,”World Perspectives. December 1991, 34–36.Google Scholar
  35. 39.
    U.S. Information Agency (1990), op. cit.,International Narcotics Control Strategy. Incoming unclassified telegram. Washington, D.C., 1.Google Scholar
  36. 41.
    Kohut, A. and L. Hugick (1989), op. cit.“, 2–11.Google Scholar
  37. 42.
    Colasanto, D. (1990), op. cit., 3.Google Scholar
  38. 43.
    Ibid. Colasanto, D. (1990), op. cit., 7.Google Scholar
  39. 44.
    U.S. Information Agency (1990), op. cit.,International Narcotics Control Strategy. Incoming unclassified telegram. Washington, D.C., 1.Google Scholar
  40. 45.
    Andreas, P.K., Bertram, E.C., Blackman, M.J. and K.E. Sharpe, (1991–2), op. cit. “.Google Scholar
  41. 46.
    Kohut, A. and L. Hugick (1989), op. cit.“.Google Scholar
  42. 48.
    Age is reported in years.Education is coded into five categories with the lower values indicating more education.Sex is a dummy variable in which female is zero and male is one.Income is the annual income for the head of the household.Attitude toward the police derives from an index of five items tapping public attitudes toward how well the police deal with citizens, respond to calls, control rowdy behavior, prevent crime, solve crime, and police corruption. The scale is reliable, as evidenced by an Alpha, Cronbach score of 0.863.Fear of personal crime andfear of property crime are constructed based on Skogan's Newark and Houston fear reduction study (see Kogan, W.G.,Disorder and Decline: Crime and the Spiral and Decay in American Cities. New York, Free Press, 1990). The scales were coded so that the higher the value, the greater the fear. The Alpha, Cronbach measure of reliability is 0.904 and 0.594, respectively.Victimization experience is for the entire household and not just the head. This variable combines personal weighted by seriousness of crime. Unfortunately, since we do not have a separate weighting scheme for Belize, we adopt the one used by Wolfgang et al. which applies to crime seriousness in the United States (see Wolfgang, M.E., Figlio, R., Tracy, P.E. and S.I. Singer,The National Survey of Crime Severity. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Department of Justice, Washington, D.C.: Government printing, Office, 1985). Our assumption is that Belize and the United States are identical when it comes to attitudes toward the relative seriousness of various crimes.Google Scholar
  43. 51.
    Andreas, P.K., Bertram, E.C., Blackman, M.J. and K.E. Sharpe (1991–2), op. cit. “.Google Scholar
  44. 52.
    Kohut, A. and L. Hugick (1989), op. cit.“.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bruce Wiegand
    • 1
  • Richard Bennett
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of SociologyUniversity of Wisconsin-WhitewaterWhitewaterUSA
  2. 2.Department of Justice, Law, and SocietyThe American UniversityUSA

Personalised recommendations