Cocaine Cowboys

 <br /><div class="MsoNormal">Its hard to imagine just how poignant the “where did it all go wrong” moment must have been when Mickey Munday aimed his flare gun at the oil slick he had hastily created in a last ditch attempt to escape the federal agents who were rapidly closing in. Billy Corbin’s <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">Cocaine Cowboys</i> was the ride of a lifetime, a film so honest and comprehensive (with a major exception) that for much of the film the drug trade took on a human face it sorely lacks. However what <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">Cocaine Cowboys </i>does not show is how the nation’s drug habit and the forces which reacted to it changed much more than the streets of Miami. </div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span>The first part of the film which shows the rise of Munday and Jon Roberts (among several others) gives a glimpse into a world which feels more like a Hollywood blockbuster rather than a feasible truth. The sheer amount of money, drugs, innovation, and success came off more like a college student’s dream life than a historical account of a violent and despised enterprise. It was strange to see the origins of the Miami drug trade which lacked violence (comparatively) being presented by two likable guys.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>Watching drug money allow Miami to flourish when the rest of the country was struggling to keep their nose above water begged the question; would I have cared as long as my city was prosperous?</div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span>The Dadeland shooting seems to have answered that question for both Miami and the majority of the United States. <span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp;</span>For those interviewed in the film, this was a clear turning point in the narcotics trade in the United States.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span>The threat of violence had always been very real, but never materialized to a degree near what occurred in the aftermath of the Dadeland massacre. The turning point they all referenced was not simply the increase in violence, but apparently was the first offensive launched by the federal government in the war on drugs. Paul Gootenberg’s article in <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">The Americas</i> which focuses on the Pre-Columbian narcotics trade shatters that assumption, noting that the U.S. had launched a “secret war” on cocaine as early as 1947. (Gootenberg, 134). However the film is correct in defining the post Dadeland period and the advent of Vice-President Bush’s new initiatives as an entirely different level of federal intervention. What the film misses (after all it is focused on Miami) but both Youngers and Gootenberg focus on in their articles is how the War on Drugs has been affecting the South American countries. </div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span>Youngers, in her article <i style="mso-bidi-font-style: normal;">Collateral Damage</i>, is especially hostile towards the effects of U.S. policies in Andean countries. Her primary argument is that U.S. policy is not only ineffective, but incredibly dangerous and damaging to Andean countries. She argues that the danger lies in how the U.S. has forced the largely feeble civilian governments to craft policies which favor the power of the traditionally violent and belligerent Andean militaries. (130-131) By the U.S. relying on the military, it is undermining the civilian governments which desperately need to find stable ground for issues that are much more critical than the drug war. </div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span>While Youngers supports her arguments rather well, but it seems that she allows an understandable hostility towards U.S. policy drive her arguments into a territory that is overly simple and ignorant of how complex this situation is for all sides. It would be interesting to see how this article would have changed should it have been written with the current situation in Mexico be taken into account. Her advocacy for law enforcement over military in enforcement of drug policy would certainly have to be rewritten, as the cartels have proved far too strong for Mexican police to compete with. </div><div class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-tab-count: 1;">&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; </span>One thing is certain though, the War on Drugs cannot continue in its current form. It is a war of attrition that is funded by an apparently insatiable American appetite for narcotics. And as much as the American efforts in the Andean countries seem fruitless, as long as the American public demands action from their government, this long war will continue. </div><div class="blogger-post-footer"><img width='1' height='1' src='' alt='' /></div>