Trade & Commerce: The Great Leveler


"This evil thing," said a harassed Argentine official, "is like a huge centipede, a giant having 100 heads and thousands of feet, favored by the vast extent of our frontiers, by haphazard legislation piled up over the years, by a lack of definite means of combatting it." Communism? Not this time. The official was bemoaning a corrupting force that antedates even Marx—the legion of Latin American smugglers who, to the policeman's dismay and consumer's delight, control some 20% of Latin America's import trade.

In Buenos Aires last week, customs officials were auctioning off a $100 million hoard of contraband—1,500...

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