Temas Especiales

05 de Mar de 2021


Let's get real about the drug wars

In Colombia, El Tiempo and other media are reporting a different story. They tell of Murcia Guzmán's ties to the AUC paramilitary and it...

In Colombia, El Tiempo and other media are reporting a different story. They tell of Murcia Guzmán's ties to the AUC paramilitary and its extradited leader Carlos Mario "Macaco" Jiménez; and to extradited Valle del Norte Cartel drug lord Juan Carlos "Chupeta" Abadía. They tell of Murcia Guzmán's lobbying efforts in the Colombian Congress. They tell of Murcia Guzmán's connections with a retired Colombian Army general, the governor of a Colombian department and the former director of Colombia's Tax and Customs Office. They tell of a $6 million slush fund to bribe journalists in six countries, including Panama.

We seem to be dealing with a pyramid scheme as a front for drug money laundering. Think about the Ponzi-style investment pyramid and the sales pyramid --- wouldn't either of these types of operations be convenient for washing the proceeds of other crimes?

Now think about the crime wave Panama is experiencing, and the history of the US-run "War on Drugs."

The US Embassy in Bogota allied itself with the PEPEs --- People Persecuted by Pablo Escobar --- to fight the Medellin Cartel. The PEPEs played a major role in the death of Escobar and the demise of his Medellin Cartel, and evolved into the AUC paramilitary. The US and Colombian governments allied with the AUC to fight the FARC guerrillas. After the Medellin Cartel fell FARC grabbed a share of Colombia's drug rackets, with another share going to the Cali Cartel. The Cali Cartel was suppressed and the AUC grabbed a lot of FARC's drug trafficking turf. From the Cali Cartel arose other gangs, one of them the Valle del Norte Cartel. The AUC was too outrageous for Washington to continue the alliance, so it was put on the list of terrorist organizations. The Valle del Norte Cartel was also shattered.

Cocaine production? That's up, despite everything.

Repeated Colombian configurations of the drug racket having been smashed, Mexican cartels have moved in. Now the most vicious Colombian gangsters tend to work for Mexicans.

Rival Mexican cartels, meanwhile, are shooting it out all across the hemisphere, including in Panama. With police busy with major coke shipments and drug hits, the crimes that affect ordinary people --- home invasions, muggings and so on --- are growth industries.

Now Washington has a plan --- the Merida Initiative, which is touted as a way to bring the success of Plan Colombia to Mexico, Central America and Panama.

But Plan Colombia is a failure, as is the War on Drugs, and Panama and its neighbors are paying the price for Washington's follies.

The reality is that drug prohibition, like the US attempt at alcohol prohibition in the 1920s, doesn't work. We need to stop feeding the gangsters and find a more sensible way to deal with the scourge of addiction that affects not only the local population but other countries where drug abuse is a way of life for many people,