Cocaine Cowboys (2006) is about cocaine smuggling in the 1970s and 1980s. Although the movie focuses on the smuggling of cocaine from Colombia and Cuba to Miami, Gootenberg explains that the cocaine business really started in the Andean region, in Peru, Bolivia and Chile. Later, the business moved to Cuba and Colombia (Gootenberg 135-136). This is when smuggling of cocaine to the United States skyrocketed. In Cocaine Cowboys, we see that the cocaine smuggling to Miami emerged through marijuana business. Smugglers would bring samples of cocaine, and the demand for the drug got higher and higher. A small group of people, including Jon Roberts and Mickey Munday, began working with Colombia’s Medellin Cartel.
The film depicts how drug smuggling in Miami eventually led to drug wars, making Miami one of the most dangerous cities in the US. At first, the cocaine business went smoothly, without creating much violence in Miami. However, violence emerged within factions and between other factions—such as the Cubans versus the Colombians. Griselda Blanco is credited with creating much of the violence in Miami. Griselda would constantly have people murdered in order to show that she was the boss. In one instance, she put a hit on a man, and they accidently killed his child instead, and Blanco was happy about it. Another part of the movie shows how she put a hit on a man and his wife, and offered to give extra money to whoever killed the children. This violence continued in Miami until the United States government pursued massive drug busting in order to combat the violence in Miami. Eventually, all of those that were part of the Medellin Cartel were busted and ended up in prison.
The film also shows how profitable the cocaine business was. Almost every business in Miami was profiting from the cocaine business. Local businesses were selling more high priced items—such as cars. Banks were taking in double or triple the amount of money they had before cocaine smuggling transpired on such a massive scale. Essentially the city of Miami was built on cocaine money. The drug network in Miami was extremely huge—it did not simply involve petty smugglers but also influential figures. However, although Miami profited economically from cocaine, many people were injured or died during the drug wars.
The film mainly explores the benefits and repercussions of the cocaine business in the United States. However the drug wars had huge impacts in Latin America. The United States coerced the countries in Latin America to join the drug war and prevent the growth of coca and the making of cocaine. However, Youngers explains that, “Through its drug policy, the United States has forged unholy alliances with militaries that have deplorable human rights records” (Youngers 127). In Bolivia, Regan created tension between coca farmers in Bolivia and the government. The US government gave the Peruvian National Intelligence Service counterdrug aid that was, “responsible for death-squad activity” (Youngers 127). Youngers also explains how the United States still supports anti drug programs in Colombia by, “providing millions of dollars in economic assistance and training to Colombian military forces, some of whom are allied with the right-wing paramilitary groups responsible for the majority of human rights abuses being committed in that country” (Youngers 128).
Although the Miami drug wars are portrayed as being so disastrous for the city of Miami, the United States war against drug has been even more disastrous for Latin American countries. The United States inhibited democracy in these countries, and still does so in Colombia by waging drug wars abroad. The main people that were hit the hardest by these drug wars were coca farmers, who relied on coca for their livelihoods. In Bolivia, the US forces the Bolivian government to control the production of coca, and even helped with the eradication of coca. This caused massive protest from the coca farmers. Not only was coca important to their livelihoods, but it also has culturally significance for those living in the Andean regions.