Cocaine Cowboys

The documentary, Cocaine Cowboys, depicts a time in American culture, with the help of Latin American ties, in which the people of Miami were subject to a lifestyle of violence and drug warfare played out on the streets around them. It showcases the lives of many Americans, and Latin Americans, that were involved with drug-dealing, transporting cocaine, and enforcing street laws through violence. It seemed that the two main Americans involved, Jon Roberts and Mickey Munday, stumbled across this lifestyle through convenience. It seems that both were just interested in the money, and not so much the actual cocaine. They spent years transporting it through private planes and runways from Colombia to acres of land outside of Miami. Much like the young men in Colombia, who resorted to means of income from growing the coca plants [Youngers], this was just their job. Unlike the poor farmers in Colombia who barely make a living off of their coca-crops [Youngers], the Americans reaped the benefits of their fruits and made millions of dollar in transporting and selling the cocaine to people in Miami.

The documentary shows while the rest of America entered a recession in the early 80s, Miami was economically booming. Car dealerships, construction of buildings, and night clubs were all thriving with the help of drug money. The most disturbing aspect of this is that it seems the American government knew of the illegal drug trade, but did little to disrupt it. Despite coast guard and police forces combing the beaches and coast, Cocaine was still a dominant factor in the economy of Miami. It also seemed that the government was okay with that income as long as it didn’t cost them anything [National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 2]. It is indicated that the CIA was well aware of guns and drugs being smuggled over, but turned the other cheek. The United States government seemed content to look the other way until it became a violent, bloody warfare in the 80s.

After Fidel Castro sent many disorderly and mentally unstable Cubans, by boat, to the U.S., the lifestyle so many in Miami had come to embrace, turned deadly. There was now a lifestyle of warfare among those involved with the drug trade, many of the victims and assailants being Colombian or Cuban. Miami turned into a deadly town, with gunfire erupting in public places and citizen’s homes. The U.S. government could ignore it no longer, and Ronald Reagan declared a war on drugs.

The military and police forces soon shut down places of business that were thriving from drug trade. They raided homes and offices, arresting many of the American citizens who had worked for so long transporting drugs; People like Jon Roberts and Mickey Munday. While many of the Americans and Latin Americans involved in the drug trade were sentenced to years in prison, many beat the system and were soon free again. One of them being the ‘godmother.’ Despite her role in bloody Miami, Griselda Blanco, a Colombian drug lord, only spent a short time in an American prison before being released and sent back to Colombia. Her whereabouts are unknown.

Colombia is perhaps one of the largest regions of coca-plants and drug lords. The U.S. has, for years, played a vital role in the Colombian war on drugs. Despite possible human rights violations [Youngers], the U.S. has done whatever needed, to ensure that the Colombian government uses whatever means necessary to provide counter-narcotics assistance. The U.S. government has also turned a blind eye to happenings in the Colombian drug trade that benefit them for the better, whether it be money or arms [National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 2]. It seems that the United States government has been selective in what it deems destructive and profitable in terms of the Colombian, and Latin American, war on drugs. They often provide monetary support further illegal endeavors by governmental heads in Latin American countries based on the money the U.S. sends to support the anti-narcotic forces [Youngers]. It seems that the United States’ war on drugs is a two-edged sword.