Castro Calls for ‘Blood and Fire’ Against Drug Trade

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Cuban President Raul Castro urged fellow Latin American leaders to follow Cuba’s tough anti-drug policies, saying he would not rule out the death penalty for traffickers.

Speaking at a summit between the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the European Union in Santiago on Sunday, Castro said “In Cuba there are no drugs nor will there be,” reported El Economista.

Castro said he had taken forceful action when illegal drugs started to enter the island: “I personally had a meeting with the bodies which deal with this problem and we took a decision: ‘We are going to combat drugs, which are starting to threaten us, with blood and fire,'” as Agencia Reforma reported.

The Cuban president called on other countries to take tough measures against organized crime, referencing the Caribbean island’s harsh drug penalties, under which people caught with even small amounts of drugs can face long jail sentences. Castro reminded his audience that “our laws allow the death penalty [for traffickers], it is suspended but it is there in reserve.” Any foreigners trying to bring drugs into Cuba would be arrested, he said, even if it were just a small amount of marijuana.

InSight Crime Analysis

Drug policy is one area where Cuba has found some common ground with the United States, and the US State Department has praised the country’s “significant” cooperation on counternarcotics.

The island’s geographic position between major drug producing nations and US shores make it a prime location for the transshipment of narcotics, but its strong counternarcotics efforts have done a lot to impede traffickers.

Sometimes working in coordination with the US Coast Guard, Cuban forces monitor the coast with radars and carry out regular patrols. However, the authorities intercepted 9.01 tons of illegal narcotics in 2011, a 360 percent increase on the year before.

The Cuban government has maintained a strict zero-tolerance policy for production, possession and consumption on the island. One US citizen was sentenced to an 18-year jail term in 2009 for a drug offense.

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