A recent study shows the perceived availability and impact of drug use in Argentina is rising, amid widespread evidence that the country has become a significant hub for the regional drug trade.
Roughly one third of residents in Buenos Aires and the Greater Buenos Aires (GBA) area and one quarter of Argentines nationwide reported knowing where to buy drugs, according to a recent study (pdf) by Argentine business school UADE. This was up from less than 10 percent in 1989.
Likewise, a growing number of people in Buenos Aires and GBA reported knowing someone who has been affected by drug use. Roughly half of Argentines nationwide rated the nation as having a high level of drug abuse.
According to the report's findings, younger and older Argentines differed little in their perception of any particular substance's potential harm, except for alcohol and marijuana, which people under 30 perceived as less harmful than their older counterparts. Similarly, legal substances like cigarettes and alcohol were seen as least harmful, while crack and inhalants were rated the most damaging.
InSight Crime Analysis
In recent years, Argentina has increasingly become an important link in South America's international drug trade. This growing importance has coincided with a rise in drug-related violence and domestic drug consumption. That drug issues are weighing evermore on Argentines' minds is to be expected.
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According to Argentina's former health minister Claudio Mate, the nation is focusing exclusively international drug trafficking issues while failing to address domestic issues. "In contrast to Paraguayans, Bolivians or Colombians, who are exporters, Argentina's drug traffickers sell in their own country," Mate told local media.
With Argentina's next general election to take place October 25, drugs and drug-related crime has become a talking point amongst political candidates -- particularly in the race for the governorship of Buenos Aires province. While Argentina has made some moves towards drafting more lenient drug consumption and possession laws, it remains to be seen whether these efforts will continue if the October elections result in a change in government.