Cocaine Cowboys

Cocaine Cowboys is a documentary made in 2006 about the rise of cocaine trafficking from South America to Miami, Florida.  The film explores the transition from marijuana as the primary drug in the U.S. to cocaine through the 1970s-1980s.  Interviews with former traffickers and law enforcement officials reveal the methods used to transport and smuggle cocaine across the borders.  The most common methods of transport were by boat and plane.  Drug traffickers created a massively complex system of transportation, smuggling, distributing and monitoring coast gaurd and police officials.  The money made from the this booming drug trade flowed back into the economy of Miami, sparking economic growth and prosperity.  The money indirectly financed many legitimate businesses and when many of the cocaine trade’s key players were taken out many businesses failed due to plummeting sales.  Until the mass violence erupted within the drug trade many politician’s and law enforcement officials turned a blind eye because finally Miami’s economy was doing so well.

The CIA themselves also turned a blind eye to the illegal drug activity in Miami.  In fact in declassified documents it is shown that high ranking officials were indirectly involved in the drug trade by monitoring but allowing continuation of trafficking and even secretly supplying money to the Contras, a rebel Nicaraguan group, to finance the purchase of arms.

In Coletta Youngers article “The U.S.“War on Drugs” and its Impact on Democracy in the Andes,” she writes, ““Among those militaries are those responsible for some of the worst human rights violations in the hemisphere today.  As a result, another unintended consequence of the US war on drugs is that Washington is at least indirectly fueling human rights violations and, in Colombia, contributing to the region’s most brutal counterinsurgency campaign.”  She also discusses the fact that because of the corrupt government, loss of land, and poverty in general often forcers farmers to move up into the Andes to participate in the production of cocaine.  These are the same foarmers that are being tortured and slaughtered because of their unavoidable involvement in the industry.  These gross violations of human rights are being perpetuated by the U.S. goverment who doesn’t care about the innocent players involved because after all this is happening on American soil.  The U.S.’s tactics for battling the drug trade was train and arm/equip military groups, but Youngers points out that instead of purely tactical training, training in human rights and proper investigational matters would have been far more effective.  Youngers also states that forces backed by Washington were “some of the most dangerous elements” in the region.