In recent years, Rosario has been the setting of a rise in drug-related deaths and high-profile scandals involving police links to drug traffickers. In a report released by the National University of Rosario, 1,000 deaths in the last nine years have been associated to drug trafficking activities. This year alone, the University found that 116 homicides resulted from the increase in drug trade to the city. The media has largely classified the increased violence as a “drug war”, which also sees the corrupt involvement of certain police factions which have allegedly protected the traffickers.
We asked a number of porteños their opinion on the situation and, specifically, whether they felt the responsibility for bringing an end to the drug violence falls on the local police force or on federal authorities.
Carlos González, 69, Portero, Almagro
You hear about deaths [related to drug violence] in the news every day. It is very important that everyone is involved – local police forces, government and federal authorities, everyone. That’s the only way you can put an end to this violence. And even if all those authorise worked together effectively, it will still be difficult to end the drug trade.
Federico Bruno, 62, Store manager, Belgrano
Yes, of course, I think both the federal authorities and the local police forces need to be on top of this issue – but ultimately I think that if the federal authorities do not monitor what police forces do, then what is the point? It could even make the situation worse if, as we have seen, the police are involved with the drug traffickers. So in a way, I think the federal authorities need to be more heavily involved.
Florentina Alvarez, 45, English teacher, Belgrano
The problem is corruption of both federal authorities and police officers. Before you can actually fight the drug traffickers, you need to fight the corrupt individuals in positions of power that facilitate the trade and violence. I think it will be very hard to do so thought. Many people are dismayed at how much corruption there is in all levels of government.
Annamaria Vega, 64, Fruit seller, Palermo
Ultimately, it is the police’s responsibility. That is their job! They need to have better vetting procedures to enter the force though as they seem to be causing more damage than good! I would definitely classify what is happening a ‘narco war’ – if people are dying regularly because of the drug trade, it is a war against the people and the fact that some police officers were involved with traffickers is disgraceful.
Guadalupe Lopez, 28, Translator, Caballito
Federal authorities need to do much more to find solutions to the drug trade. I think they should think about looking at their own role in the issue – it is not just certain police officers that are corrupt, it is also government officials that I think turn a blind eye or even facilitate corrupt acts. But in general, yes I think the responsibility falls on both.