This essay explores how a drug problem was manufactured in Cold War Argentina. Unlike in some of its South American neighbors, in Argentina most authorities until the late 1960s did not believe that the country had a serious drug problem, though previous episodes regarding drug usage in the interwar period, explored here, had defined the medical contours of toxicomanía (addiction). But as the 1970s progressed, new legislation framed the drug problem as one of national security, proscribing illicit drug distribution, penalizing consumers, and authorizing federal police to closely monitor areas of youth sociability. Promoted by a diverse team of new experts and in cooperation with US antidrug agencies, the campaign helped create a link between youth, deviance, and subversion, which supposedly corroded the national body. Drugs were defined in repressive terms before the military imposed its dramatic dictatorship in 1976, making drugs a lasting issue in modern Argentine politics.

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