Cocaine Cowboys

This film is a documentary covering the drug era in the 1970s-1980s in Miami.  It is focused on a group of men, and one woman, and their involvement with the cocaine business mainly from Columbia into the United States.  The film includes the multiple dynamics of the drug-running business and the constant thought processes of trying not to get caught, plus the inevitable crime events that took place as a result of this intricate and illegal business.  The film also depicts the transformation of Miami with the drug and gang influence by turning it into a high violent and unsafe environment due to the intensification of the battles between major drug dealers and their groups of individuals that followed them.  Miami was once a peaceful, retirement city, mostly geared towards elders, and turned into one of the top murder capitals of the world, followed by a complete downfall when the drug business was shut down and thus taking the economy it funded down with it.

The article “Collateral Damage,” by Coletta A. Youngers describes United States support of increasing national military influence in the Andes region where the majority of cocaine is made and then illegally transported into the US.  Youngers states, “Washington [US] relies on the Latin American military and police forces to play the lead role in combating the illicit drug trade, providing the resources, training, and doctrinal justification for militaries to play a significant role in domestic counternarcotics operations…”  Youngers goes on to state that the US justifies the embrace of local militaries of the South American countries as necessary to ‘confront the firepower of drug traffickers and the rampant corruption among police forces.’  We see the ‘firepower’ that Youngers speaks of within the drug groups by the countless scenes of random gunfire, murders, and the trunks of cars and vans full of nothing but automatic weaponry, handguns, etc.  Specifically, the main event of the shooting at the liquor store the film opens up with, the shooting by the Cocaine Cowboys, and the van they leave behind is full of different styles of guns.  A police officer interviewed on the film stated that ‘these men definitely came prepared to fight.’  Youngers’ article also speaks about the severe collateral damage of innocent people, as her article is properly named, within the countries of the heightened militarist influence.  Her article mainly researches collateral damage, the drug trade, and military-civilian relationships of three major Andean countries: Peru, Bolivia, and Columbia.  Increased military training and involvement within these countries as an attempt to control the drug trade into the US came with major human rights issues and killings of potentially innocent people, for instance of the woman and her infant child on a mission trip who both died as a a result of a shooting of a civilian plane in Peru.

The ‘Pre-Colombian’ Era of Drug Trafficking in the Americas: Cocaine, 1945-1965″ is an article written by Paul Gootenberg that illustrates the drug trade and major drug cartels before the actual drug era of the US in the 1970s-80s when drug-trafficking got out of hand.  He mentions the entire process of obtaining the powdered cocaine and  the early traffickers of the drug.  The article focuses on the beginning countries that started cocaine drug trade including: Peru, Chile, Cuba, Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico.  Gootenberg compares it with the Eurasian heroin epidemic and sums up the cocaine cartel by stating, “For cocaine in the Americas, this new trafficking economy paralleled the mafia-structured Eurasian network of heroin built up during the 1920s and 1930s.”  As shown in the film, Cocaine Cowboys, the cocaine era in the United States and the increasing violence of the drug cartels was actually unsimilar to the mafia groups with the illogical and cold-blooded murders taking place constantly in Miami.  The film explains that at least with the mafia, the group would make sure of their payment instead of uselessly murdering the person that owes them money.