Cocaine Cowboys

The movie Cocaine Cowboys gives insight to the cocaine wars that took place in Miami in the 1980s. It has interviews with Mickey Munday and Jon Roberts, two men who smuggled and sold an inordinate amount of cocaine into the United States from Columbia. Both men ended up working with the Medellin cartel and eventually went down with it. The movie discusses how these were not drug dealers as much as business men, the drug dealers were people like Griselda Blacno who would order hits on any one person who rubbed them the wrong way.

This cocaine business came to Miami as a transition from marijuana to something more and mostly came about from the Cubans. The Cubans had been in the cocaine business for quite sometime. “Cuba was the hub for burgeoning international cocaine traffic and tastes during the 1950… Havana’s notorious gambling and pleasure clubs, and freewheeling prostitution industrybecame the era’s prioneer test markets of cocaine. The spreading modern taste for cocaine, including among curious American tourists, was a Cuban invention, worthy of it’s own cultural history.” (Gootenberg 150). the Cubans ended up with an established trade in Miami and felt threatened when the Columbians came to play. This sets up the story for the cocaine wars to begin. The greed and hatred of the dealers is what set Miami up to be a drug war capital.

Younger’s article focuses on the United States role in the “control” of drug crops and the smuggling of drugs from South America. On page 134 the article talks about the US making “drug producing and transport countries” get certification that they were cooperating with the United States in getting rid of local drug cartels. The entire article discusses different countries and how the United States initiative is actually harming these countries. In an effort to keep cocaine out of our back yard we are promoting using toxic herbicides to kill the coca plant in Colombia which could have terrible environmental effects. (143) This method is also only reportedly used on small farmers and is taking away the lively hood of these people. Is killing their plants really the right answer? Why not crack down on the plants that actually turn the leaves into cocaine?

One gets the sense from these articles that is the United States had not made such a fuss about cocaine to begin with that maybe the trade would have died down. “To be sure, there had long been some recreational use of cocaine, and illicit sales, but both fell into severe decline by the1920s. Cocaine had never spawned any organized form of illicit production or systematic traffic from producing zones.” (Gootenberg 137) Maybe if we hadn’t been the anti-drug cowboys the drug could have just died out. It always seems as if the more you tell people that they can not have something the more they want it and the harder it is to get something, the higher the prices go and that’s where people in other countries like Cuba and Colombia get the motivation to go into the drug business to begin with.

After watching this movie and reading these articles, one is left with the odd feeling that cocaine really did good for Miami, it kept the economy going and provided jobs for many people who worked in business that were frequented by people who had drug money. If things would not have turned bloody and people like Griselda Blanco would not have went on a killing spree, the argument could be posed that the world would be a richer and less messed up place if we would just legal the drug trade, reap the tax benefits from it and then maybe people would not want it so much.