Cocaine Cowboys

Cocaine Cowboys, a 2006 documentary, is a film about the influx of Columbian cocaine into Miami in the 1970’s and 1980’s and the effects of this drug trafficking on the city of Miami. The level of violence that was allowed to occur during this period was truly shocking. People were dying at extreme levels and the film showed the various reasons for this ridiculous death toll. Many people find it hard to believe that an entire city could function with this much crime running rampant through its streets. The key to this is the money that was flowing through all parts of Miami society. Someone could enter Miami with very little money and with a few connections could end up having millions of dollars. The drug trade simply makes too much money to ever be completely controlled and it’s the citizens of South America that suffer the most. For almost no money they have to produce these drugs in awful conditions and with great risk to their health. The Miami citizens suffer as well however when there are shootouts between different gangs and other drug related deaths. The Coletta Youngers article describes the difference of suffering with “The collateral damage of the United States war on drugs is not evident on U.S city streets where illicit drugs remains as cheap and readily available as ever—but it is far to evident to the people of Columbia, Peru, and Bolivia”.

Police corruption was rampant throughout Miami during the period the film showed. An extreme example of this was police cars actually trafficking the cocaine to designated distributors. The film showed very well that money, above anything, is enough motivation to turn cops into the criminals they should be attempting to capture. While most cops didn’t actually participate in the trade, a little money was enough to persuade them to look the other way. A question that comes up and the film debates is how high this corruption actually goes. The Contras, Cocaine,  and Covert Operations article brings up some cocaine corruption with “Reagan administration officials interceded on behalf of José Bueso Rosa, a Honduran general who was heavily involved with the CIA’s contra operations and faced trial for his role in a massive drug shipment to the United States. In 1984 Bueso and co-conspirators hatched a plan to assassinate Honduran President Roberto Suazo Córdoba; the plot was to be financed with a $40 million cocaine shipment to the United States, which the FBI intercepted in Florida”. For the cocaine trade to ever really slow down, the federal government must find a way to end corruption at all levels.

A very shocking part of the film was how easily cocaine distributors could get the drug into the country and take care of anyone who stood in their way. Hitmen would kill without mercy and everyone was a potential target. In the 70s the whole system was much less violent then what would occur in the 80’s. Drug dealers began fighting among each other and would eventually turn it into a drug war with thousands of people eventually dying. This along with the thousands of Cubans and Columbians entering the city caused the violence to escalate to extremely scary levels. The film ended very happily, showing the new Miami that if not free from drugs, is at least a much safer place. It is ironic that the Miami we know today was made based on drug money from cocaine.