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Do as we say, not as we do: part 2

21 June 2010

Some new currency restrictions on exchanging U.S. dollars had the “expat community” it a tizzy over the last few weeks.  I can’t see that anyone is actually exchanging 4,000 US dollars in greenbacks for pesos a month (the restrictions don’t affect wire transfers or ATM card withdrawals) and I’m hard-pressed to imagine a scenario in which a large amount of foreign currency would change hands in any legitimate business deal.  Usually people pay by check, or at least in the currency of the country.  Maybe someone recently entering the country and buying a late model used car from someone leaving the country… but that’s about it.

Fisgon: Lavado de dinero

While I don’t see these currency restrictions as a big deal (and am amused by the expats who have nothing better to do that carp that everything the Mexican government does is meant to make their lives harder) what makes those restrictions onerous isn’t the perceived affect on rentistas, but what it says about U.S. and Mexican foreign policy.   Friday’s El Universal (06-18-2010) commented on the release of a study, “The Globalization of Crime: A Transnational Organized Crime Threat Assessment” (a pdf I’m having trouble loading) that led to comments both by Ganchoblog and by the Woodrow Wilson Center’s Mexico Portal:

The Wilson Center zeros in on the “money laundering”:

The majority of global drug-profits remain in the U.S., Canada and Europe, which in the case of cociane, represents 70% of the 72 billion dollars worth of product trafficked each year, according to yesterday’s statement from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

While “dirty money” may be a problem, I’ve said before the real problem is that it isn’t getting back to the workers and producers.  You see some honking big pickup trucks (and the occasional armored Humvee) out in rural Sinaloa, but those are work trucks of a sort… the farmers and workers are as poor as ever, and certainly aren’t making out like… er… bandits.  Gancho focuses on the chronic complaint of Mexico that the United States does nothing to control the illicit gun trade, while expecting Mexico to control the narcotics trade:

For decades Europe and the US have signaled corruption in developing countries as the principal cause of transnational crime, which exonerates them of guilt.

In the case of Mexico and its combat of drug traffic this unequal relationship is clearer. The northern neighbor refuses to control the free sale of assault weapons that wind up in the hands of the cartels, it doesn’t stop the activity of the cartels in their border towns, and it has done almost nothing to reduce the consumption of drugs by its citizens. Why should we then do the dirty work of the US?

Why indeed?

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