The documentary Cocaine Cowboys depicted the lives of two major cocaine importers and one of the most illustrious hitmen in 1970s and 1980s Miami, Florida. They described life in Miami as a gangster’s paradise and a coke-addict’s fantasyland. Not only were the dealers and importers making more money than they could possibly spend, regular people were able to escape life’s problems by destroying their brain and wasting their life away. But as the movie made clear, these joys came with severe consequences. Money and power became a problem for the importers and dealers; once you add wealth and authority to out of control drug usage, violence quickly erupts and gets out of hand.
As seen in the film, the United States is no stranger when it comes to supporting illegal and unethical activity. The two importers, Jon Roberts and Mickey Munday, described how their job was so easy when it came to bringing cocaine into the United States; political figures were happy to take donations from drug dealers and become their friends. It did not matter that nearly everyone in Miami was snorting cocaine on a daily basis and disfiguring their brain as long as the politicians were getting their fair share of the profit. Not until the death rate was at 500-600 bodies a year in Miami did the government step in to find a solution to the problem. Coletta Youngers’ Collateral Damage can also be used to support this claim. She argues that the United States has created alliances with the militaries of Bolivia, Colombia, and Peru to help fight against human rights (127). While attempting to fight socialist parties and drug producers in these countries, they in turn succeeded in slowing down democracy in Latin America as well as kill innocent people. Instead of acting directly as the world police, the United States contributed to the death of innocent farmers in Bolivia who were forced to produce coca plants in order to make a living to support themselves (139).
Roberts and Munday readily admitted that they were responsible for billions of dollars worth of cocaine entering the United States. The large amount of drugs in the city of Miami was the sole contributor to the astonishing increase in violence during the 1980s. Without people like them, it would not have been possible for the Bolivian and Colombian farmers to make a living off coca plants just as it would not be possible for Rivi Ayala to enter a life murdering people who do not pay drug debts. Thirty years later, it is the farmers who are dead and the Rivi Ayalas and Guy Fishers who are still behind bars, not the men who made all of this possible. Not trying to pull the race card, it does seem rather odd that those receiving the harsher punishments just happen to be something other than White.
Money and power are obviously the two main factors when it comes to the American involvement in the cocaine industry. “Did the CIA sell cocaine in the 1980s?” helps support this claim along with the film. These declassified documents went into detail about governmental corruption allowing the distribution of cocaine in the 1980s. Documents such as these prove that the United States government was definitely aware of the illegal activity going on during the time. Receiving money from people such as Roberts and Munday is enough to keep government interference out of the picture; rewarding them with light jail sentences are a way of keeping power intact. After the many ruined lives and deaths, Miami is a vibrant and beautiful city once again thanks to the billions of dollars worth of drug money in the economy.