Cocaine Cowboys

The documentary Cocaine Cowboys tells audiences the story of the drug cartel that exploded in Miami in the 70’s and 80’s and the crime that erupted and escaladed as a result.  The organization that sprung from the cocaine industry fueled Miami’s economy, built the impressive skyline, and turned Miami from a retirement city to a wild destination resort. However, once the competition between the drug lords intensified, the city became a blood bath. The documentary follows the advancement of the cocaine business from its initial start, into the height of productivity and violence, until its collapse.

The webpage, Did the CIA Sell Cocaine in the 1980’s?, informed audiences of the CIA’s involvement and their knowledge of the drug crisis happening here and abroad. It states that the US had good intelligence on the drug industry taking over American cities. The articles main focus is on Oliver North who was on the National Security Council (NSC). After his emails and journals were declassified, information about how he, and others, had allowed drug operations in America to continue surfaced.  Messages about suspected plane shipments of cocaine and known warehouses were drug dealers were purchasing weapons were sent to North. The CIA had the ability to stop or shut down these operations, but corruption in the hierarchy of the government prevented action. North was also connected to collaboration with known drug lords whose businesses were shipping cocaine, along with other drugs, to the United States. The NSC wanted to use drug money to fund the Contras. North tried to make deals that benefit the drug and weapon dealers. An example is José Bueso Rosa, who was involved in an assassination attempt on the Honduran President that would be financed with a forty million dollar cocaine shipment to the US.  Through previously secret documentation, it was discovered that North was “behind-the-scenes” responsible for shortening Bueso’s sentence, even thought Bueso was involved in a conspiracy that the Justice Department “deemed the most significant case of narco-terrorism yet discovered”.  This information contradicts that given in Cocaine Cowboys where government officials claimed little knowledge of the whereabouts of drug operations. They claimed they had no idea how advanced the drug business was and how they would have sent more enforcement before things escaladed out of control in Miami.

In Coletta Youngers article, it talks about the military violence in Andean countries that the American government supported to extinguish the drug industry presence.  Often the American government would support the use of military action on the drug traffickers. However, the kind of force these militaries used was cruel and infringed on the citizens’ rights. Innocent people suffered the consequences of a military presence. They caused detrimental damage in the citizen’s lives and caused more harm than the drug cartels. “Through it drug policy, the United States has forged unholy alliances with militaries that have deplorable human rights records”. Under George H. W. Bush the “Drug Initiative” was put into motion. This policy was designed to “combat the drug problem and to increase the effectiveness of the local law enforcement”.  The military force involved in these efforts worsened civilian-military relationships. Often the military presences in towns that the Pentagon wanted to strengthen were the forces the local governments were trying to keep back because of decades of military rule. An example was how in Colombia, US money sent for counterdrug assistance was actually fueling the counterinsurgency war, “exacerbating the most serious human rights crisis in the hemisphere”.  Youngers also talks about how cocaine trade became an “escape valve for Andean economy”, and how the magazine Fortune labeled the trade as the fastest growing and most profitable industry.  Another goal of the Andean Strategy was to strengthen and stabilize the Andean economies of the effects that the eliminating of cocaine and other drugs as a major source of income. The Source-country effort was an attempt to make drug trade more dangerous and costly to lower production and availability to drive up prices to discourage American citizens from buying cocaine. However, this came at the price of innocent civilian lives.