Drug Policies and the Politics of Drugs in the Americas

pp 11-32


Prohibition and the War on Drugs in the Americas: An Analytical Approach

  • Thiago RodriguesAffiliated withInstitute for Strategic Studies (INEST), Fluminense Federal University (UFF) Email author 
  • , Beatriz Caiuby LabateAffiliated withCIESAS Occidente

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In the beginning of the twentieth century, a national and international process drove a great amount of psychoactive drugs into illegality. The historical movement towards the criminalization of the production, trade, and use of those drugs is a complex articulation between social practices and security moves made by many states worldwide. In the Americas, it is possible to follow this by studying how moral perspectives connected with emerging technologies of government. This chapter aims to present an analytical framework that addresses the “problematization” and the “securitization” of psychoactive drugs in the Americas, i.e., to show how some drugs became moral, social health, and security “problems” demanding security measures by the states. The proposed framework has five interconnected levels: the moral/social practices level, the public health level, the public security level, the national security level, and the international security level. Our hypothesis is that each one of the American nations that developed internal prohibitionist regimes has faced a singular equilibrium between these five analytical levels. Alongside the general exposition of the framework, we briefly present the historical cases of United States, Brazil, and Mexico in order to indicate how we conceive of what might be possible applications of our analytical suggestions.